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Tuesday June 5, 2012Four More Gators Chosen So Far On Tuesday In Major League Baseball Draft

Gainesville, Fla.

Four members of head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s Gator baseball team have heard their names called on the second day of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, which just began the seventh of 15 rounds.

 

Junior shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) was taken with the first pick of the second round by the Houston Astros at No. 61, junior left-hander Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers at No. 82 in the second round, junior right-hander Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) went to the Boston Red Sox at No. 118 in the third round and senior outfielder Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was selected by the Houston Astros to open the seventh round at No. 219. The trio joins Gator first-round picks junior catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (3rd overall, Seattle Mariners) and junior left-hander/first baseman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (31st overall, Boston Red Sox).

 

Fontana was the first Gator shortstop to earn All-SEC three seasons in a row and joined outfielder Matt den Dekker (2008-09-10) as the only UF players to be named to the SEC All-Defensive Team three times. He has a .294 batting average in 62 games, leads the Orange and Blue in runs (56), walks (46) and stolen bases (13-for-14), and has 30 RBI, 10 doubles and a career-high nine homers. On the Watch List for the Brooks Wallace Award presented to the nation’s top shortstop, Fontana sports a .977 fielding percentage and committed just one error in league play. He was named to the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team last weekend after hitting .364 (4-for-11) with four runs, two RBI, two walks and two thefts in Florida’s three victories.

 

Last season, Fontana was a second-team All-SEC pick, had a .289 average and led the SEC in walks (52) and sacrifice flies (nine). He paced the squad in sacrifices (20) and triples (five), rated second with 57 runs and was third with a career-high 49 RBI. As a freshman in 2010, Fontana became the first player in school history to be named to the Division I Rawlings Gold Glove Team and earned Freshman All-America recognition from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He collected second-team All-SEC honors and was named to the league’s Defensive Team and All-Freshman squad. In his rookie campaign, Fontana started 63 games at shortstop and was fourth on the squad with a .287 average with 56 runs, a team-high 53 walks, 23 RBI, 15 doubles and 11 stolen bases. He committed just four errors in 279 chances for a .986 fielding percentage.

 

A first-team All-SEC choice, Rodriguez became the first Gator reliever to earn all-league accolades since Kevin Chapman was recognized in 2010. The left-hander has a 3-2 record in a team-high 32 appearances and paces the pitching corps with 79 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. Rodriguez has registered a 2.08 earned run average, notched four saves and limited opponents to a .203 batting average. He racked up 47 strikeouts and issued eight walks in 34.1 innings of work during SEC play and preserved both wins at third-ranked Kentucky.

 

In 2011, Rodriguez boasted a 4-2 mark with a 1.91 ERA in 32 appearances, including one start. He totaled 44 strikeouts and allowed 12 walks in 37.2 innings, collected a pair of saves and was part of three shutouts. The southpaw was 1-0 in 11 SEC appearances spanning 11.1 innings and had a 0.79 ERA. Rodriguez tied for the team lead with six appearances during the NCAA Tournament, when he was 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA and totaled 11 K in 8.1 innings.

 

Among the 10 players in the running for the 2012 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, Maddox is 12-for-13 in save situations to lead the Southeastern Conference and is 3-3 with a 2.24 ERA. The righty has struck out 55 batters and issued eight walks in 52.1 innings, while opponents are batting just .207 against him. At the plate, Maddox is hitting .265 with five runs, five RBI and five walks.

 

During his sophomore campaign, Maddox batted .280 with 35 RBI, 30 runs, 14 walks, six homers and three doubles in 62 starts - 41 at first base, 15 at third base, five as the designated hitter and one at catcher. He made 21 appearances out of the bullpen and was 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA, nothing a team-high five saves in 27 innings of work. The right-hander registered 21 strikeouts, issued three walks and limited opponents to a .198 performance.

 

The SEC’s Freshman of the Year in 2010, Maddox was named a third-team All-American by the NCBWA that year, the first rookie from Florida to earn All-America recognition since Brad Wilkerson accomplished the feat in 1996. In addition, he was named to Freshman All-America teams by Baseball America, Lou­isville Slugger, NCBWA and Yahoo! Sports, earned second-team All-SEC recognition and was named to the league’s All-Freshman Team. Maddox started 63 games in four different spots that season - third base (29), designated hitter (19), first base (14) and catcher (1), hit .333 and held the top spot in RBI (72), multi-RBI games (21), homers (17), hit-by-pitches (eight) and sacrifice flies (five).

 

On the top players in school history, Tucker has a .316 average and leads the Gators with 78 hits. He is second on the club in runs (53), RBI (46), walks (31), doubles (16) and homers (15). Tucker was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2012 after being a first-team choice last season and a second-team pick in 2010. He was the 2009 SEC Co-Freshman of the Year with LSU’s Matty Ott.

 

He holds school records for games played (261), games started (255), total bases (586), at bats (1,020), hits (335), RBI (254), doubles (69) and is second in homers (56). Tucker rates second in putouts (1,188), sixth in runs (206) and is ninth in walks (123). He is the Gators' all-time leader in NCAA Tourney at bats (110), hits (40), RBI (37), homers (10) and doubles (9).

 

Tuesday’s Draft features rounds two through 15 and concludes Wednesday with rounds 16 through 40. Selections resume at noon and can be followed here: 2012 MLB Draft coverage

 

Current Gators Chosen In 2012 Major League Baseball Draft (In the 7th Round)

Player

Round

Pick

Team

Mike Zunino (C)

1st

3rd

Seattle Mariners

Brian Johnson (LHP/1B)

1st

31st

Boston Red Sox

Nolan Fontana (SS)

2nd

61st

Houston Astros

Steven Rodriguez (LHP)

2nd

82nd

Los Angeles Dodgers

Austin Maddox (RHP)

3rd

118th

Boston Red Sox

Preston Tucker (OF)

7th

219th

Houston Astros

 

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