Image credit: Colby Halter (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)
Colby Halter always had the desire and talent to play pro baseball. The only problem seemed to be the timing.
Early during his tenure at Bishop Kenny High in Jacksonville, Fla., Halter put himself on the map as a two-way talent. As a high school freshman he entertained offers from two of the top programs in the state: his beloved Florida Gators and their rivals from Tallahassee—Florida State. In retrospect, the Seminoles were wasting their time.
“When I visited FSU, I kinda felt like a traitor, because I’d been a huge Gator fan my whole life,” Halter said. “I sat down and tried to write out a pros and cons list. Florida had been my dream school my whole life, and whatever that list said, the bottom thing on the FSU list was that ‘It’s not Florida.’ Right after that I called Sully and told him I wanted to come to Florida.”
Halter had college sorted out, but by his senior season he was drawing enough attention from the pro ranks that making it to Gainesville started to seem unlikely. Early during the 2020 spring teams had Halter pegged as high as potentially the second or third round as an infielder with a plus hit tool. He was ready to show out during his senior season and waltz into draft day ready to sign, but those dreams were dashed when the Covid-19 pandemic canceled all baseball that spring, and threw every player’s draft status into question.
Without a spring to prove himself, and in the shortened five-round draft, Halter found no team willing to hit his desired signing bonus number. Halter’s advisor, Alan Goetz, said he wouldn’t call on draft day unless an offer came in that met his number—and no calls came in.
“I was just sitting there, waiting on a call from Al (Goetz, his agent),” Halter said. “Once the third round passed, I was like, ‘I’m not doing this, I’m going to school.’ ”
Halter made it to campus and asserted himself immediately, hitting .303 as a freshman, good for third on Florida’s squad. Heading into his draft-eligible sophomore year in the spring of 2022, Halter seemed poised to make an impact and finally make it to the pro ranks.
Instead, he scuffled during his second go-round in the SEC, admittedly letting in worries about his draft status. He went unselected in the draft, and headed to play for Falmouth in the Cape Cod League looking to get back on track.
“I’m just going to go have fun, reset, and ended up lighting it up and having a great summer,” Halter said. “That was a lesson for me too, not to be worried so much about the results. Baseball isn’t a game where you can try harder all the time and it’s going to go better for you.”
He made the Cape Cod League all-star team, returning to Gainesville with more confidence under his belt. He improved his offensive slash line in every category and helped the Gators return to Omaha for the first time since 2018, finishing runner-up to LSU.
Again, Halter found himself staring down draft day, and again faced uncertainty. He’d been told by teams that his name would be called, but he’d heard that before.
“You always think you’re going five rounds ahead of where you’re going,” Halter said. “I had a lot of teams tell me they saw me in rounds 6-10 … Day three was tough. I’m sitting in my house, I’m sure my mom and dad are thinking about it too but they don’t want to bother me, I’m just walking up and down the street and talking to my college coaches.”
The A’s ended Halter’s wait in the 17th round, signing him to a $125,000 bonus and sending him right to the Arizona Complex League. It’s a little later than he’d planned, but Halter is finally in pro ball, with a bit more wisdom to show for it than he had out of high school.
“Over the years I’m trying to learn from everything I go through playing baseball this long,” Halter said. “I’m just trying right now to not have a ton of expectations and just get 1% better every day.”
On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ former Florida infielder and new A’s draftee Colby Halter joins to talk through his college career and expectations for life as a professional.
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