Dylan Floro’s high school baseball coach knew he had someone special when Dylan Floro made the varsity team as a high school freshman.
After outstanding careers in high school, and then on to Cal State Fullerton, Dylan signed on with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays farm system. In July, he was platooned to the Devil Rays where he has pitched throughout most of the second half of the 2016 season.
The team website now reports he was recently reassigned back into the Rays farm system. Everyone is hoping he’ll return to the big team in 2017.
Making it in the major leagues was a dream-come-true for this Merced County native. He was born in Merced, and grew up in Atwater where he remains a deep source of pride to his family and his coach at Buhach High School.
At Buhach, he was such an outstanding player that he was moved to the varsity team in his freshman year.
Coach Scott Wise was in the dugout for Dylan’s high school baseball career. “Exceptional,” he summed it up to me in an interview about Dylan’s remarkable arc from outstanding school and college player to the major leagues.
“Moving up to varsity as a freshman really showed his level of ability.”
According to the official website of Major League Baseball, Dylan led all of minor league baseball in 2014 when he played for Tampa’s double-A affiliate Montgomery.
That year, he pitched 178 and two-thirds innings. He was named the Rays' Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2013 after leading the organization with a 1.77 ERA.
He was selected by the Devil Rays in the thirteenth round of the 2012 first-year player draft out of Cal State-Fullerton.
Coach Wise says Dylan’s family is all about baseball. An older brother Brock played at Buhach and then on to Cal State Fullerton leading the way for Dylan’s selection by the school for his college ball.
A younger brother plays in organized baseball in Atwater. Dylan’s dad is a youth baseball coach.
“Dylan’s mom and dad were always there for him,” Scott said. “It’s a solid family all the way around.”
Dylan is a product of what some describe as Atwater’s special connection to baseball. Observers have pointed to strong baseball teams from the area going back as far as the 1920s and 1930s right on up to the present day.
The community had a semi-pro team, the Atwater Packers, that was incorporated in 1949 and played in the forties and fifties.
In recent years, the Atwater Aviators played in the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League. Baseball is part of the community fabric of Atwater.
A community doesn’t magically receive outstanding baseball talent. As in any special accomplishment, there are a lot of factors. In the case of Dylan Floro, coaching was certainly a factor.
Involvement by the family is also important. His parents Dee and Kent nurtured this passion for the game and provided the love and support necessary for Dylan and his siblings to succeed.
Also important, according to Coach Wise, has been work ethic.
“I remember Dylan taking care of his pitching mound after practice without being asked,” the coach recalls. “You knew he was going to achieve what he has achieved. He’s not afraid to put in the work; he will do everything that was needed both on and off the field.”
While the Devil Rays entered the final month of the 2016 season in
In the meantime, Dylan’s coaches hope to see him again during the off-season as he had done in the past.
“I usually see him in the
The combination of upbringing, community support, and good coaching has helped Dylan make it to the major leagues. And while the future is definitely wide open for this Central Valley pitcher, there will always be a connection to where it all began.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced