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Thursday September 17, 2009Florida Baseball Recruiting Class Ranked No. 1

Tucson, Ariz.

Collegiate Baseball newspaper's 27th annual rundown of NCAA Division I baseball recruiting classes was released on Thursday, with Florida's 2009 recruiting class named the best in America for the first time in school history by the publication. The Gators' 11 recruits include 10 freshmen and one junior college transfer. UF's ranking marks its eighth time in the top 10 on the publication's list, first since the 2006 group rated third, and represents a 17-spot jump from last year's rating of 18th.

 

"This ranking is a credit to the players and how hard each of them worked during their high school and junior college careers and it also recognizes the outstanding effort of our coaching staff during the recruiting process,” said third-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “These players have performed at a high level and we are counting on them contributing right away for us. The state of Florida possessed a wealth of talent and we were fortunate to have many of these student-athletes come to the University of Florida."

 

Ten of the squad’s 11 recruits hail from the talent-laden Sunshine State and the group features five pitchers, three infielders, a pair of catchers and an outfielder. Nine of the players achieved all-state recognition during their senior prep seasons and infielder Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) was recognized as the 2009 American Baseball Coaches Association's Division I Player of the Year in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Smith was unanimously selected as the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association/Region 17 Player of the Year and was also named a first-team Division I All-American after hitting .467 with a school-record 21 home runs and 90 RBI.

 

The Gators had seven signees from June's Draft who are now enrolled in school, as left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) was chosen in the 27th round with the 817th choice by the Los Angeles Dodgers, right-hander Michael Heller (Bradenton, Fla.) was taken in the 29th round with the 865th pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates, catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was tabbed 873rd overall in the 30th round by the Oakland Athletics, Smith was chosen by the Cleveland Indians in the 30th round with the 905th choice, catcher Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) was taken in the 37th round by the Tampa Bay Rays at number 1,129, right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) was chosen by the Kansas City Royals with the 1,382nd pick in the 46th round and left-handed hurler Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) went 1,451st overall to the Houston Astros during the 48th round.

 

Florida returns 20 letterwinners, including 10 pitchers and five players who saw the majority of time at their position last season. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), a two-year member of the SEC’s All-Defensive Team, spurned an offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates to return for his final campaign. A school-record 10 players from last year’s team were chosen over the three-day MLB Draft, the second-highest total from any school in the country.

 

In O’Sullivan’s second season at the helm, the Gators were 42-22 overall and claimed the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division title for the first time since 2005, finishing one game behind eventual national champion LSU and Ole Miss. UF reached the 40-win plateau for the 18th time in school history and the first time in four years.

 

The Orange and Blue made its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance and earned the eighth national seed, hosting two rounds of postseason action at McKethan Stadium, where the club registered a 30-10 (.750) mark. Florida went 3-0 to sweep the Gainesville Regional, edging Bethune-Cookman (8-7) and then overpowering Miami (Fla.) twice (8-2 and 16-5) to advance to the NCAA Super Regional for the third time in school history, all in the past six years. It marked the first time that the Gators had eliminated the Hurricanes from NCAA play. In addition, Florida claimed the regular-season series from Sunshine State rival Florida State, highlighted by a 5-4 win in Gainesville on St. Patrick’s Day and a 10-2 triumph in Tallahassee on April 14.

 

UF finished among the top 15 within each of the collegiate baseball polls: No. 12 in Baseball America, No. 13 in both Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN and No. 14 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). The squad compiled a 3.05 grade point average and will be welcoming its second-consecutive highly-touted recruiting class to campus.

 

The Gators return a solid nucleus that includes two-time first-team All-SEC infielder Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.), 2009 SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year first baseman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.), SEC All-Tourney and NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tourney choice outfielder Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and the sophomore quartet of pitchers Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.), Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.), Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) and Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.).

 

Florida is scheduled to begin fall practice on Friday, Sept. 25, at McKethan Stadium and will open its 2010 campaign in mid-February.

 

Collegiate Baseball's 2009 Recruiting Results (as of Sept. 17, 2009)

Rank

School

Recruits

Frosh

JC

4-Year Transfers

1.

FLORIDA

11

10

1

0

2.

Arizona State

20

14

5

1

3.

LSU

13

7

6

0

4.

UCF

21

11

10

0

5.

Cal State Fullerton

17

12

4

1

6.

Kentucky

12

8

4

0

7.

TCU

14

9

5

0

8.

Vanderbilt

11

10

1

0

9.

Miami (Fla.)

14

12

2

0

10t.

Virginia

12

10

2

0

10t.

Stanford

12

12

0

0

12.

Texas

8

7

1

0

13.

Nebraska

21

16

5

0

14.

North Carolina

16

13

3

0

15.

Mississippi State

20

13

7

0

16.

Rice

12

10

2

0

17.

Oklahoma State

17

9

8

0

18.

Ole Miss

15

8

7

0

19.

Wichita State

11

8

1

2

20.

Georgia

14

12

2

0

21.

Southern Miss

16

9

6

1

22.

Florida State

16

11

5

0

23.

Oklahoma

19

9

10

0

24.

California

15

13

2

0

25.

Oregon State

20

12

8

0

26.

Oregon

17

12

5

0

27.

Clemson

10

10

0

0

28.

Louisville

11

8

3

0

29.

San Diego

12

9

3

0

30.

South Carolina

15

8

5

2

31.

UC Irvine

15

12

3

0

32.

Missouri

18

12

6

0

33.

UCLA

11

10

1

0

34.

Tennessee

13

8

4

1

35.

Georgia Tech

5

5

0

0

36.

Texas A&M

14

8

6

0

37.

Georgia Southern

15

12

3

0

38.

Texas Tech

14

7

7

0

39.

Arkansas

14

9

5

0

40t.

Cal State Northridge

14

9

5

0

40t

Long Beach State

15

9

6

0

 

Other Top Recruiting Classes: San Jose State, Fresno State, Arizona, Southern Califor­nia, Notre Dame, Hawaii, Bradley, USF, Tulane, Alabama, N.C. State, San Diego State, College of Charleston, Florida International, Santa Clara, Lamar, Middle Tennessee State, Oral Roberts, St. John’s, UC Riverside, Dallas Baptist, Jacksonville, Washington, Pepperdine, Houston, VCU, Michigan, Ohio State, Min­nesota, Georgia State, Central Michigan, West Virginia, Kent State, UL-Monroe, South Alabama, VMI, Charlotte, LeMoyne, Stetson, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Creighton, Troy, Auburn, East Carolina, Baylor, Cal Poly SLO, Connecticut, Maine, UNLV, Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, Illinois State, Liberty, UC Santa Bar­bara, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Samford, Butler.

                       

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