Spring training is almost over, which means Opening Day of the 2023 MLB season is a few days away, and a couple of former UCF Knights will be starting the season on MLB rosters. Let’s take a look at these players.
Dylan Moore — Utility Player, Seattle Mariners
Moore played for the Knights from 2014 to 2015. He was drafted in the seventh round, 198th overall, of the 2015 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers. After bouncing around for a few different minor league systems, he finally got called up by the Mariners in 2019.
Moore has played both in the infield and outfield. Last season he hit .224 in 205 at-bats and posted an OPS of .753 while recording 46 hits and 24 RBIs.
DYLAN MOORE GRAND SLAM! Mariners take the lead over the Astros in the 8th pic.twitter.com/9QQTBdGgeC— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 27, 2021
Moore will miss the start of the season due to an oblique strain he suffered during spring training. According to ESPN, he is expected to rejoin the team “by mid-April.”
Thaddeus Ward — Relief Pitcher Washington Nationals
Ward played for the Knights from 2016 to 2018. He was drafted in the fifth round, 60th overall, by the Boston Red Sox, but would later go to the Nationals with the first pick of the 2022 Rule 5 draft.
Ward will be coming out of the Nationals’ bullpen. The first time he gets the call will mark his MLB debut. He is currently listed on MLB’s website as the Nationals’ 12th-best prospect.
Thaddeus Ward is heading into the regular season on a high note.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 26, 2023
The @Nationals' Rule 5 pick -- and No. 12 prospect -- fanned 3 of the 6 batters he faced in his final spring outing. pic.twitter.com/jt5yp7HWvO
A couple of other former Knights are done playing, but still making their names known as coaches.
Drew Butera — Bullpen Coach, Los Angeles Angels
Butera played for the Knights from 2003-2005. He would go on to be drafted in the fifth round, 149th overall, by the New York Mets in the 2005 draft. He would make his MLB debut in 2010 for the Minnesota Twins and he would end up playing until 2021. In addition to the Twins, he played catcher for the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angles, the Colorado Rockies, and the Kansas City Royals, wit whom he won the 2015 World Series. In 2019, he was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame.
After retiring from baseball at the start of last season, he joined the Angles as the team’s bullpen coach, a position he once again holds this season.
Chad Mottola — Hitting Coach, Tampa Bay Rays
Mottola played for the Knights from 1990 to 1992. He was selected 5th overall, one spot ahead of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, in the 1992 MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He would eventually be called up by the Reds in 1996. His playing career ended in 2007, after stops with the Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins, and Baltimore Orioles. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.
In 2013 he became the Blue Jays’ hitting coach. After his contract was not renewed, he became the Rays’ minor league hitting coordinator. He would be promoted to become the team’s major league hitting coach in 2016, a position he has held ever since.
Knights to Watch in the Minors:
- Tyler Osik (IF): Part of the Chicago White Sox system. Played for the Knights from 2018 to 2019. Was drafted by the Sox in the 27th round of the 2019 MLB draft. Expected to start the season either in Charlotte (AAA) or Birmingham (AA).
- Ben Lively (P): Part of the Cincinnati Reds’ system. Played for the Knights from 2011 to 2013. Was drafted in the fourth round by the Reds in the 2013 MLB draft. Has spent time in the majors as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies and Royals, as well as in the KBO League as a member of the Samsung Lions. Expected to start the season with Louisville (AAA).
- Jack Sinclair (P): Part of the Washington Nationals’ system. Played for the Knights from 2019 to 2021. Was drafted in the 16th round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals. Expected to start the season in either Wilmington (High-A) or Harrisburg (AA).
- Trevor Holloway (P): Part of the New York Yankees’ system. Played for the Knights in 2019. Was signed by the Yankees after going undrafted in 2020. Expected to start the season in either Hudson Valley (High-A) or Somerset (AA).
- Alex Freeland (IF): Part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system. Played for the Knights from 2021 to 2022. Will be making his professional debut after being drafted by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2022 MLB draft. Expected to start the season in Rancho Cucamonga (A).
- Hunter Patteson (P): Part of the Kansas City Royals’ system. Played for the Knights from 2020 to 2022. Will be making his professional debut after being drafted by the Royals in the fifth round of the 2022 MLB draft. Expected to start the season in Columbia (A).
- Conor Staine (P): Part of the Colorado Rockies’ system. Played for the Knights in 2022. Will be making his professional debut after being drafted by the Rockies in the fifth round of the 2022 MLB draft. Expected to start the season in Fresno (A).
- Colton Gordon (P): Part of the Houston Astros’ system. Played for the Knights from 2020 to 2021 and was drafted by the Astros in the 8th round of the 2022 MLB draft. Expected to start the season in Asheville (High-A). Currently ranked as the Astro’s 10th-best prospect according to MLB.