Wednesday July 18, 2012UF Baseball's Preston Tucker Signs With Houston Astros
Gator outfielder Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) recently signed with the Houston Astros after being taken in the seventh round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft with 219th overall pick. All nine players taken from head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club in June’s Draft signed professional contracts.
Tucker achieved All-America status from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) for the second-consecutive season after hitting .321 with 57 runs, 50 RBI, 35 walks, 17 doubles and 16 round-trippers in his final collegiate campaign. He departs Gainesville as the school’s all-time leader in games played (265), games started (259), total bases (596), at bats (1,035), hits (341), RBI (258) and doubles (70).
Tucker was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2012 after being a first-team choice during his junior season and a second-team pick in 2010. He powered UF’s offense with a .393 (11-for-28) performance in NCAA play and became the first Gator to achieve Regional All-Tournament status all four years of his career. He is the lone UF player to earn Most Outstanding Player recognition twice (2009 & 2011). In 30 career NCAA Tourney games, Tucker batted .368 (46-for-125) and holds school records in career at bats (125), hits (46), RBI (31), runs (29), homers (11) and doubles (10).
Tucker was one of 10 NCAA baseball student-athletes named as a finalist for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete had to be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Tucker was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies with the 498th overall pick but decided to return to Florida for his senior season and earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology. This quotation from Tucker summed up his decision: “A lot of guys don’t have the opportunity to say that they got a college degree and I always want to have that to my credit. The bottom line is that I can go off and play pro ball next year and this is an opportunity that I really didn't want to pass up. It's playing baseball, it's the game I've always loved to play so in the end I'll still be doing what I love.”
In 2011, Tucker earned second-team All-America and first-team All-South Region from the ABCA as the Gators finished as the national-runner up with a program-best 53-19 record. Florida shared the SEC regular-season championship with South Carolina and Vanderbilt and captured its first SEC Tourney title since 1991 before winning the Gainesville Regional and Super Regional rounds on the way to Omaha. A first-team All-SEC choice and the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCAA Gainesville Regional, Tucker batted .308 with a team-best 74 RBI, 55 runs, 28 walks and matched the school's single-season record with 23 doubles. He established UF's single-season marks for games played (tied with Mike Zunino) and started by being in the lineup all 72 games, with 63 starts in right field and nine at first base.
During the Gators' 11 NCAA Tournament outings in ‘11, Tucker totaled 20 RBI and had 11 extra-base hits (six doubles and five homers) on his way to a .304 (14-for-46) clip. He was a second-team All-SEC recipient and a member of the league's All-Defensive Team as a sophomore in 2010 as the Gators reached the College World Series for the first time since 2005.
In 2009, Tucker became the first player in school history to earn the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Freshman Hitter of the Year Award and he shared the SEC Freshman of the Year honor with LSU pitcher Matty Ott. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional, was a unanimous selection to the league’s All-Freshman Team and was chosen as a Freshman All-American by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, Rivals.com and the NCBWA.
Over his illustrious Gator career, Tucker finished with a .329 average, 1,035 at bats (1st in school history), 341 hits (1st in school history), 258 RBI (1st in school history), 210 runs (6th in school history), 127 walks (8th in school history), 70 doubles (1st in school history), 57 homers (2nd in school history), 24 stolen bases in 32 attempts and seven triples. His fielding percentage of .989 is tied for 10th at UF with Matt LaPorta (2004-07) and his total of 1,197 putouts in second behind LaPorta (1,659) and Zunino (1,340).