Two Gators announce return to baseball team for 2023

·2 min read

The 2022 MLB draft is in the books, and while a number of Gators are set to start their pro careers, there were a handful of players that didn’t hear their names called over the three-day event. Two of them, catcher BT Riopelle and infielder Colby Halter, have already indicated their intentions to return to Gainesville for another year.

Halter didn’t wait for the third day of the draft to commence and announced his return on Instagram.

“See you in August Gator nation,” Halter captioned his post. “Unfinished business.”

Halter started off 2022 as one of the hottest bats in the lineup, but he underperformed for most of the year after his 14-game hit streak subsided. He finished the year slashing .240/.338/.380 with eight home runs, 11 doubles, 44 runs, 27 RBI and seven stolen bases.

He’ll look to build on those numbers enough to improve his draft stock and hopefully get him drafted in the first 10 rounds of next year’s draft. He’s batting .305 through 95 at-bats in the Cape Cod League with the Falmouth Commodores, but those numbers don’t always translate to SEC play. Halter should be the frontrunner to hold down second base next year for Florida, but he’ll have plenty of competition to stave off.

Riopelle, on the other hand, made his intentions to return to Florida known almost immediately after the 2022 season ended, according to Gators Online’s Nick de la Torre. That’s one of the reasons Mac Guscette entered the portal. Riopelle picked up an NIL deal with the Gator Collective already and was open about his desire to return, which is likely the reason he went undrafted.

Florida got lucky and saw incoming catcher Luke Heyman go undrafted, so he should learn a ton behind Riopelle this year as Rene Lastres recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Shortstop Joshua Rivera is another name that went undrafted that many in Gator Nation are wondering about. He could return, but he could also sign a free-agent deal for decent money or head to the independent leagues. More information should be available on him in the coming week or so.

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