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2012 Baseball Players Shining in Professional Debuts
Three key leaders from last season’s regular-season championship Florida Atlantic University baseball team have not skipped a beat in starting their professional careers this summer. R.J. Alvarez, Ryan Garton and Alex Hudak played an instrumental role in the Owls capturing the Sun Belt Conference title in 2012. Now, as the minor league baseball season winds down, those three players have continued to produce big numbers.

I’m not surprised!

Alvarez (pictured left) was a third-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels, and the organization’s first selection in this year’s Major League Baseball draft. The right hander was lights out on the mound in August and so far this month for Class A-affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels. He has posted three victories and recorded 14 strikeouts in his six outings. The Royal Palm Beach native now stands 3-2 with a respectable 3.29 earned run average in his first professional season. Alvarez is doing this after anchoring the FAU bullpen, and earning all-conference and all-region honors this spring.

Meanwhile, Garton (pictured right), a three-year starting pitcher and ace of the Owls’ pitching staff, has impressed the Tampa Bay Rays organization so much that he’s been invited to the team’s instrumental camp this fall. The right hander has moved to a bullpen role for the Hudson Valley Renegades, posting four wins and a dazzling 1.73 ERA in 20 appearances. He has not allowed a run in his last nine outings and allowed just seven batters to reach base in August. This is quite a season for the former 34th-round pick.

Finally, Hudak (pictured left) has been a hitting machine for the Burlington Royals in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system. The outfielder is hitting .344 with seven runs batted in and eight doubles after signing as a free agent. He hit his first professional home run on August 19.

“I am very excited to see the impact our guys have made in professional baseball,” said John McCormack, FAU’s head baseball coach. “It is a true testament to their hard work and dedication to their craft. I look forward to watching them progress.”

Other former players performing well in the minor leagues include 2007 graduate Robbie Widlansky and 2008 graduate Brandon Kloess. Widlansky is hitting .316 for the Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A affiliate Bowie. He has scored 71 runs with 83 runs batted in. Widlansky was named an Eastern League All-Star this season.

Meanwhile, Kloess is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA since being promoted to the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The right hander has struck out 26 batters in 13 outings.

In a summer in which two former Owls made it to the big leagues (story here), FAU fans might not have to wait too long to see other baseball players in the majors.

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