Trio of ex-Wildcats make MLB Opening Day rosters

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Ginny Polin | The Daily Wildcat

Former Arizona centerfielder Joey Rickard prepares to swing during a match against Rice on Feb 14, 2012.

The list of former Arizona Wildcats to play in the MLB grew to 83 on Monday as former UA center fielder Joey Rickard made his debut for the Baltimore Orioles against the Minnesota Twins. 

Rickard is one of three Wildcats to appear on opening day rosters in the MLB for the 2016 season along with Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon and Colorado Rockies catcher Nick Hundley.

Rickard, who was a Rule 5 draft selection by the Orioles in the offseason, batted ninth and played left field for the Orioles on Monday. Rickard went 2-4 with a double and a run scored in his first career major league game.

A three-year starter for the Wildcats from 2010-2012, Rickard never hit below .300 in his three-year career and was the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the NCAA National Championship team in 2012. In his final year at the UA, Rickard hit .320 with 33 RBIs along with 60 runs scored and a team-leading 18 stolen bases, which caught the eye of the Tampa Bay Rays who drafted him in the ninth round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

Mark Melancon has pitched in the MLB since 2009 when he made his debut for the New York Yankees and has since been traded three times before finding a home with the Pirates where he has been since 2013. Melancon seized the closer role after Jason Grilli was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in June 2014.

Melancon played for Arizona from 2004-2006 where he totaled 18 saves, which is good for second in Arizona baseball history. Despite an injury-riddled junior season, he was drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Yankees.

The last Wildcat on a 2016 MLB roster is Nick Hundley, the starting catcher for the Rockies. Hundley played for the San Diego Padres for six years before being traded to the Orioles in 2014. His stay in Baltimore would be short as he signed with the Rockies for two years in 2015.

Hundley played for the Wildcats from 2003-2005 where he was named first team All-Pac-10 and second team All-American in 2005. His dominance on defense and leadership skills prompted the Padres to draft Hundley in the second round of the 2005 MLB Draft. Hundley has been a consistent defensive catcher and decent hitter in the big leagues for seven years and counting.


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