Florida baseball position group breakdown: Shortstop

With eight days until opening night, there are several ongoing position battles in the infield for the Florida Gators; the shortstop position is not one of them.

Florida returns a three-year starter in Josh Rivera.


The 6-2, 215-pound shortstop is returning to Gainesville for his 4th season in the Orange and Blue after going undrafted in the 2022 MLB Draft.

Rivera has started 131 games in the Gators’ middle infield throughout his three-year career, including the 2020 season which was cut short due to Covid (Rivera started all 16 games at SS).

The IMG Academy product holds a career batting average of .259, 16 home runs, and 67 RBIs.

While Rivera’s numbers don’t jump out at you, his improvement from 2021 to 2022 is worth noting. Rivera’s on base percentage jumped from .324% to .351% during that span, scoring 11 more runs as a result. His slugging percentage saw a similar uptick, increasing from .389% to .429%.

Rivera put the ball in play at a higher rate in 2022, striking out 8 less times (44) in 34 more at bats (224).

Not only has Rivera steadily improved his approach at the plate, but his defensive numbers have increased as well. The shortstop posted a .962 fielding percentage across 264 defensive chances in 2022 after posting a .935 fielding percentage in 2021.

Although those figures may not be where Rivera or the staff wants them, the reports coming out of the summer and fall seasons are very positive towards Rivera’s improvement defensively and at the plate.

The one thing I’ve noticed this preseason is the leap that Rivera has taken vocally. Every time I watch him practice or scrimmage, he is the center of attention and the leader of his team. It’s obvious that the team looks up to Rivera and that his veteran presence is felt in the locker room. From the looks of it, Rivera is an ultra-competitive athlete that comes with some trash talk.

Admittedly, my sample size is small, but Rivera looks as dominate as I’ve seen him in a Gators’ uniform.

Veterans like Josh Rivera and Colby Halter will need to stand out this season if the Gators want to be a great baseball team.

The Avon Park native ranks as the 72nd NCAA prospect for the 2023 MLB Draft, according to D1Baseball.


Florida has other players they can use at shortstop, such as Colby Halter, Deric Fabian, Dale Thomas, and Cade Kurland, but unless Rivera is injured or getting the night off, I don’t foresee many guys getting their chance at shortstop in 2023.






Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.