Florida Gators catcher/first baseman JJ Schwarz will return to the program for his senior season, he announced Friday on Instagram.
Along with some emojis, Schwarz captioned pictures of Florida’s dogpile after winning its first national championship thus:
Without question, best night of my entire life. Dogpiling with my best friends is something I will never forget. In fact, I loved it so much that I decided I wanna do it all again next year! Gator Nation stand up!!! #CWS #Champs #FarewellTour #OneMoreYear
Schwarz was expected to return for his senior season as a Gator after lasting surprisingly long in the 2017 MLB Draft. Once thought of as a likely early-round pick, Schwarz remained on the board until the 38th round, where he was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays — later, as a draft-eligible junior, than he was selected in the 2014 MLB Draft as a high school senior.
By returning to school, Schwarz can rebuild his draft stock by having a season at the plate more like his freshman campaign in 2015, when he looked like one of the most dangerous power hitters in college baseball, and also make himself a true two-position player, after spending significant time at first base in 2017 as a means of making room for fellow catchers Mark Kolozsvary and Mike Rivera behind the plate.
Kolosovary and Rivera should not return to the Gators in 2018 — Rivera should turn pro after being selected in the sixth round of the MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians, and Kolozsvary is likely to sign with the Cincinnati Reds after being drafted in the seventh round— and so Schwarz could also slide back behind the plate, his more natural position, while Florida brings along catchers from its freshman class.
Finally, Schwarz returning gives him an opportunity to pull off a likely unprecedented feat in collegiate athletics: He and sister Taylor Schwarz, who starred for Florida’s national championship softball teams in 2014 and 2015, have caught the final outs of those seasons’ championship-clinching tilts.
If Florida wins a national title by throwing to JJ Schwarz at first in 2018, the siblings will both have caught the final outs of back-to-back national championship seasons.