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Tuesday October 20, 2009Baseball America Names UF Recruiting Class No. 1

Durham, N.C.

Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan's incoming class for the University of Florida baseball team was ranked number one in the nation by Baseball America on Tuesday. The group had previously been chosen No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball in September. This marks back-to-back top-five classes for O’Sullivan from Baseball America, as last year’s crop was fifth.

 

Baseball America's Aaron Fitt wrote: “An overwhelming consensus of coaches and scouts across the country pegged Florida as the nation's best class thanks to its depth of legitimate star-caliber talent. Austin Maddox, whose raw power and arm strength both rate near 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, leads a group of four players who ranked among the Top 200 prospects for the 2009 draft; no other class had more than two. Mike Zunino also has plus raw power and plus arm strength but is a better athlete and a more polished receiver than Maddox. The ultra-projectable Michael Heller can already reach 95-96 and flashes a power breaking ball, but he is still honing his command and working his way back from a torn ACL suffered this summer. Brian Johnson is one of the nation's most polished left-handers, with a strong three-pitch repertoire and a clean arm action. Hudson Randall flew under the radar but would have been a headliner in most other classes thanks to his bulldog mound presence, projection and feel for a quality four-pitch mix. Steven Rodriguez has plus movement on his 88-92 mph fastball and tremendous feel for his change-up. Nolan Fontana, Cody Dent and Kamm Washington all have chances to be above-average college players up the middle, and Bryson Smith could step into the middle of Florida's lineup immediately, though he has a grooved metal bat swing.”

 

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.

 

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 on its way to a berth in NCAA Super Regionals.

 

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. Florida is in the middle of its fall workouts and will begin its regular-season campaign against USF at McKethan Stadium on Feb. 19, 2010.

 

Baseball America's Rankings

Rank

School

1.

FLORIDA

2.

Stanford

3.

Arizona State

4.

TCU

5.

Cal State Fullerton

6.

Texas

7.

North Carolina

8.

Mississippi State

9.

Virginia

10.

UCF

11.

N.C. State

12.

Ole Miss

13.

Vanderbilt

14.

Tennessee

15.

Kentucky

16.

Oklahoma

17.

Miami (Fla.)

18.

Michigan

19.

UCLA

20.

Clemson

21.

Rice

22.

Oregon State

23.

Missouri

24.

Oregon

25.

Louisville

                       

--UF--

 

 

 

 

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