A middle infielder at Miami Senior High School in Miami, Fla., Michael Rivera came to Tennessee for his freshman season in 2003. Rivera immediately found himself in the lineup, starting all 43 games he played. He was forced to miss the final 12 games after injuring his right thumb. Rivera hit .283 as a rookie with two home runs and 26 RBIs. A versatile player, Rivera started 33 games in right field, five at third base, four at first and one at shortstop as a freshman, while hitting anywhere from second to seventh in the lineup.
He posted a .301 batting average as a sophomore in 2004 with two homers and 18 RBIs. He earned SEC Player of the Week honors midway early in the season after hitting .632 (12-for-19) over the course of a week. Rivera played in 54 games, making 42 starts (29 in right field, two at third base and one at second base). He registered 14 multi-hit and four multi-RBI games and recorded a 10-game hitting streak.
Rivera started all 67 games at second base during Tennessee's 2005 College World Series run. He hit a career-best .331 with 81 hits, one home run and 42 RBIs. He posted 25 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games. On the base paths, Rivera was 13-for-14 on stolen-base attempts. His only home run of the season was a timely three-run blast during Tennessee's series-clinching win over Georgia Tech in the NCAA Atlanta Super Regional. He had two hits during the season-ending loss to Arizona State in the College World Series.
Rivera served as the team co-captain and started every game of his senior season in 2006, hitting .316 with 67 hits, 36 RBIs and a career-high four home runs. He put together a career-best 12-game hit streak that came to an end May 18 against No. 8 Alabama. Rivera broke the school record for games played when he took the field for the 219th time May 18 against Alabama. The season-finale vs. Alabama May 20 marked his 219th career game, and he doubled to tie Stevie Daniel (1999-2001) for fourth place on the school's all-time hits list with 246 career hits.
Upon Rivera's departure from UT, the only Vols to ever record more hits than him were SEC Players of the Year Chris Burke (2001), Todd Helton (1995) and Jeff Pickler (1998). He left as the school's all-time leader in games played (219) and at-bats (793) and was also second in singles (197).
Rivera was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He went on to play just two seasons in the organization, rising to the top of the Minor Leagues at the Triple-A level. He played in 92 total games in the minors, including 15 in Las Vegas.