10.5 percent of all NCAA seniors to play college baseball are drafted to a minor league team. In the 44 year history of USF baseball, 117 players have been drafted or signed with a minor league team. Of those 117 players, only 15 USF baseball alumni have suited up for a major league baseball team.
Former USF pitcher Andrew Barbosa has already defeated two of those odds, and is on his way to beating the third.
After getting drafted twice by the San Francisco Giants in the 15th round in 2006 and the 48th round in 2007, returning to USF both times, the 6-foot-8-inch southpaw found a home after being drafted in the 36th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks the same team that drafted teammate and fellow starter Derrick Stultz.
It wasn’t really a concern, Barbosa said on his draft spot. I knew that I might be drafted a little later in the draft.
Since being drafted in 2006, the lefty had a roller coaster college career that included a two-year stint at South Florida Community College, a walk-on spot at USF, two stellar seasons that garnered spots on the all-conference first and second teams in 2010 and 2012 and a career-threatening Tommy John surgery that ended his 2011 season after 10 innings of work.
It’s not something that I take for granted, he said. I know that the injury could have ended my career, and I’m really blessed.
After being drafted by the Diamondbacks, Barbosa was sent to the Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer League, a short-season Rookie League member. Though his time in Montana was short, Barbosa says that he valued his time with the team.
I was a bit older than a lot of the players in that league, said the 24-year-old. There were a lot of guys there that were just looking to make a name, and they were swinging a little bit more.
Barbosa turned heads with his performance in Missoula, pitching 22 innings while allowing nine hits and going 1-0 in four starts. He finished his month in Missoula with a .41 ERA and 28 strikeouts, and was named the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week after his final start.
His strong performance in Montana earned Barbosa an early call up, getting sent to the South Bend Silverhawks of Class A baseball after four starts with the Osprey.
It was really just an amazing honor for me, he said. Playing in minor league baseball, there are so many different players that have so much talent. Getting called up really means a lot.
The increase in talent has reflected on Barbosa’s stat line. Although he has still managed to get his trademark strikeout, fanning 11 batters in 9.2 innings, Barbosa says that the maturity of the hitters has increased the challenge.
You can definitely see the difference, he said. The hitters are looking at more pitches, picking and choosing. You have to be dialed in and focused every time you step on the mound.