#1 Florida Baseball 2016 Preview

Florida Gators
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
 Florida Logo
A young Florida team put together an amazing season in 2015. They went just 19-11 in SEC play, but earned a top seed and hosted the regionals and super regionals. In regional play, the Gators crushed Florida A&M and South Florida before sneaking past Florida Atlantic 2-1 to advance to face Florida State in the Super Regionals. This is where the Gators really made headlines. The Gators beat the Seminoles 13-5 and 11-4 to reach the College World Series. And things started off the same in Omaha with a 15-3 win over Miami. After a 1-0 loss to Virginia, Florida again crushed Miami, this time 10-2. But the Cavaliers stood in their way and Florida had to beat them twice to advance to the Finals. They did get one win, but couldn’t get the best of UVA a second time.
2015: 52-18, 19-11
2015 Postseason: NCAA CWS
Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan
Field Players:
Florida returns six of seven players who batted over .300 last year. JJ Schwarz started all 70 games and is one of the best power hitters in the college game. As a freshman, the catcher and designated hitter belted 18 home runs, 16 doubles and drove in 73 runs. And he is not just a power hitter who swings for the fences all of the time. Schwarz hit .332 on the year. Mike Rivera is not one of those players who hit over .300, but he is a solid catcher coming off of a very good freshman year. Buddy Reed is the speedster in the outfield and will be flanked by Jeremy Vasquez and Ryan Larson. Peter Alonso is the likely candidate to help replace the power hitting lost with Harrison Bader.
The weekend rotation of Logan Shore, A.J. Puk and Alex Faedo returns intact. Shore went 11-6 in 19 starts and is an absolute workhorse. He totaled two complete games and threw a team high 112.1 innings and had a 2.72 ERA. Puk is an all-conference caliber player too after going 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA. Puk is more of a strikeout pitcher than Shore and is very difficult to hit when his game is on. Faedo started a dozen games and made 19 appearances, finishing his freshman campaign with a 6-1 record and a 3.23 ERA.
Who to Watch:
Despite all of the youth already on this team, Coach Kevin O’Sullivan has brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Players like Jonathan India and Deacon Liput are expected to make an immediate impact on offense, while Brady Singer could take over the closer role from the departed Taylor Lewis. There are not many holes to fill on this team, but the next generation of young talent is here and more than capable of picking up the slack.
Final Projection:
When you look at all of the talent Florida returns and the fact that they went 8-2 during the NCAA Tournament with a couple of one-run losses to national champions Virginia, it is easy to see why just about everybody has Florida pegged to win the title. However, Florida has been down this road before and failed to live up to expectations once they got to Omaha, most notably in 2011 and 2012. Last year the expectations weren’t there. This time they are and Florida’s entire season will be judged on how well they play in Omaha and anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.
Projected Postseason: College World Series
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Dalton Guthrie, IF, 282; Buddy Reed, OF, 282
Hits: Buddy Reed, OF, 86
Home Runs: JJ Schwarz, C, 18
RBIs: JJ Schwarz, C, 73
Runs: JJ Schwarz, C, 60
Stolen Bases: Buddy Reed, OF, 18
Wins: A.J. Puk, P, 9
Innings Pitched: Logan Shore, P, 112.1
Strikeouts: A.J. Puk, P, 104
Saves: Kirby Snead, P, 1
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#11 Daniel Reyes
#20 Brady Singer

Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#3 A.J. Puk
#9 Buddy Reed
#15 Logan Shore
#72 Peter Alomso