#10 Florida Baseball Preview

Florida Gators

Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank:  #4 SEC
Florida College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Florida Gators were, for most of the 2012 season, viewed as the most talented team and odds-on favorite to win the 2012 national championship. However, at the 2012 College World Series in Omaha, it was not meant to be. Kent State was on an epic run and sent the Gators home earlier than expected without the opportunity to take down East Division rival South Carolina and win the national title. The 2013 edition of Florida baseball is again loaded with talent and should be a national title threat.

2012: 47-20, 18-12 SEC
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kevin O’ Sullivan

Field Players:
Coach O’Sullivan and his staff will need to replace a lot of offensive production that is gone from the 2012 team.  Leading the 2013 offensive efforts will be Casey Turgeon, a freshman All-American from 2012. Turgeon does a little of everything at the plate. In 2012, Turgeon hit four homeruns, drove in 30, stole ten bases and walked more than he struck out. That type of plate discipline will set the tone for the 2013 Gator offense. Other guys in the mix will be Vickash Ramjit, who is the leading returner in homeruns with five.  Justin Shafer played a lot as a freshman in 2012, hitting .284 and driving in 27 runs. Taylor Gushue is another returning homerun threat as he hit five as well.

Jonathan Crawford is going to be the ace in 2013. Crawford was 6-2, with a 3.13 earned run average, and one complete game in 2012. Karsten Whitson is going to be the other anchor in the rotation giving Florida a nice 1-2 punch going into every weekend series. Whitson was 4-0 last season with a 3.51 earned run average. A key for Whitson will be balancing out the walk to strikeout ratio a little bit more from the 2012 season. Another interesting battle for the staff will be who will take over the closer role in 2013. Austin Maddox had 12 saves but he is gone.  Keenan Kish and Daniel Gibson will more than likely get the first crack to solidify the closer spot.

Who to Watch:
Tucker Simpson, a hard throwing right hander out of Alabama, is physically ready to compete right away in the SEC. Simpson can bring it with his low to mid 90s fastball and can change speeds nicely with a curveball and a changeup. Eric Hanhold, a 40th round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, is another incoming freshman who should compete right away to be in the mix out of the bullpen or a mid-week starter and for key non-conference games. Richie Martin, a 38th round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners, is a middle infielder who should provide depth and versatility to the Gator lineup.

Final Projection:
Florida starts out with an interesting opening series against ACC opponent Duke. It will be a good chance to see how the young players are coming along.  Miami travels to Gainesville in the first weekend of March and that will be, as always, a dogfight between those two rivals. The conference schedule starts out with a bang at home against a dangerous Kentucky team and a road trip to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt. The Gators do not get a break in the schedule as they have to battle national title contender Arkansas in the regular season.  Then, sprinkled in along the way are three showdowns over the course of three Tuesday nights against Florida State. Florida will once again have one of the top schedules in the country by far. The interesting thing to watch will be how quickly this new batch of young players grows and evolves throughout the season and how they complement what should be another strong pitching staff.  In the end, there may some bumps early in the season, but the Gators should be peaking by June in time for another trip back to Omaha.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Casey Turgeon, IF, 231
Hits: Casey Turgeon, IF, 65
Home Runs: Vickash Ramjit, IF/OF, 5; Taylor Gushue, IF/C, 5
RBIs: Casey Turgeon, IF, 30
Runs: Casey Turgeon, IF, 35
Stolen Bases: Casey Turgeon, IF, 10

Wins: Jonathan Crawford, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Jonathon Crawford, P, 77.2
Strikeouts: Jonathan Crawford, P, 73
Saves: Keenan Kish, P, 1; Daniel Gibson, P, 1

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#9 Jonathan Crawford
#14 Karsten Whitson

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#75 Christian Dicks


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