Kevin O’Sullivan was barely able to finish his sentence before Jud Fabian had an answer for him.
Growing up in nearby Ocala Fabian has lost count of how many Florida Gators football games he’s gone to. He was born into being a Florida fan so when he got a call from O’Sullivan during his freshman year of high school you can imagine his excitement.
I’ve just always been a fan and when Coach O’Sullivan called it felt like a dream come true,” Fabian told Gator Country.
The evaluation from O’Sullivan’s standpoint was easy. Even at 14 years old Fabian stood out. Now, standing at 6-1 and 185 pounds Fabian only serves to show that O’Sullivan’s eye was good three years ago. Fabian was one of the best players in the country. He led his county with 11 home, 23 RBI and a .453 average as a junior. His bat barrel speed (70.59) and 60-yard dash time (6.92) both rank in the top 86-percent in the country according to Perfect Game. He credits his ability to a work ethic instilled in him early on by his father (Eric Fabian), who sent young Jud chasing an imaginary baseball player.
“My dad always preached that someone is always outworking you,” Fabian said. “I’ve had that in my head whenever I work out, whenever I hit, whenever I throw. I try to be better than that person that’s outworking me. I feel like that’s gotten me to where I am today.”
That work ethic made Fabian one of the more decorated baseball players in the country. He played in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last July. He participated in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at PetCo Park in San Diego. He was ranked the state’s fourth-best and the nation’s eighth best high school prospect and the No. 2 rated outfielder just behind Riley Greene — also a Florida commit.
With those kind of accolades, and what was assuredly going to be a great senior season at Trinity Catholic, Fabian was likely to be a high draft pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. After the 2018 draft played out and O’Sullivan had a chance to look at his roster he called Fabian. He wanted the centerfielder to enroll early, put his professional baseball dreams on hold and come to Gainesville to help the Gators in 2019.
“It was a tough decision leaving the high school season, my senior season but I felt like it was the best route for me to go on,” Fabian said. “I’ve always wanted to suit up in the Orange and Blue and finally this spring I’ll get to do that.”
The hardest part may not be postponing the draft but rather leaving family. Jud’s younger brother Deric (Class of 2021) plays for Trinity Catholic and this 2019 season is likely the last chance the two of them will get to play together.
“The hardest part is definitely leaving my senior season and probably the last chance to play with my brother, who is also committed to playing with Florida,” Fabian sad. “Those were the two things I had trouble with moving forward.”
The chance to play with his brother one more year and the possibility to get drafted weighed heavily on his mind. He and his parents talked about what draft selection or signing bonus would sway or change his commitment to Florida.
“That had an impact on my decision as well,” he said. “Ever since I started my freshman year my goal was to work towards the draft this year.”
After several discussions with his family Jud decided to take O’Sullivan up on his offer. Being a Gator was the opportunity of a lifetime and the MLB isn’t going anywhere. He finished high school classes and enrolled at Florida for the 2019 spring semester.
Fabian sat in the stands at McKethan Stadium for several games in 2018. He’d watch the outfielders take fly balls and the team hit on the field before games. When the National Anthem would play and the team would take the field he’d get chills. In just over a month he’ll have the same opportunity, likely in centerfield on opening night.