Tuesday June 18, 2013Several Former Gators Enter Professional Baseball Ranks
Right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.), shortstop Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.), left-hander Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) and outfielder Taylor Ratliff (Perry, Fla.) from the 2013 Gator baseball team each recently signed a professional contract.
Selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round with the 20th selection in the Major League Baseball Draft, Crawford has been assigned to the Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League, the organizationís Class A short-season affiliate.
Over a team-high 15 starts and 86.2 innings this year, the righty led the Orange and Blue with 69 strikeouts and was 3-6 with a 3.84 ERA. During the Gatorsí opening-round contest of the NCAA Bloomington Regional, he limited second-seeded Austin Peay to one run and four hits over 6.1 innings and registered five strikeouts. He was in line for the victory before the Govs overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 4-3 triumph and was later chosen to the Regionalís All-Tournament Team.
Crawford was chosen as the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week on April 1 for the first time in his career after twirling a two-hit shutout against No. 11 Ole Miss. After the Rebels claimed the opener, 4-3 in 11 innings, he evened the series on Saturday with his best outing of the season. The righty allowed only singles in the fourth and sixth innings, set a season high with eight strikeouts and issued a pair of walks. Ole Miss hitters went 2-for-29 (.069) against Crawford, who went the distance for his second career complete-game and second solo shutout Ė first since a 4-0 no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman on June 1, 2012 during the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
Crawford also earned USA Baseballís International Performance of the Year Award for his efforts last summer. As Team USA's starter in game one of the inaugural USA versus Cuba Series in Havana, Cuba, his outing set the tone for the 2012 Collegiate National Team season. The Okeechobee native went 6.1 innings, struck out six Cuban batters and picked up the win in the club's 4-3 victory at Estadio de Latinoamericana. On the summer, Crawford led the team with 26.2 innings pitched. Along the way, he picked up two more wins for Team USA to finish the summer with a 3-0 record and a 2.02 earned run average.
Picked in the 22nd round by the Washington Nationals at No. 676, Dent is playing for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays, a Class A short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League. He made his professional debut on Monday night and went 2-for-3 with two runs, an RBI, a double and a walk.
Dent started 48 games in his final collegiate season, 37 at shortstop and 11 in center field, and saw action in 52 of the Gatorsí 59 contests. He had a .169 batting average, with 17 walks, 15 runs, 13 RBI, a team-high 10 sacrifice hits and three doubles. Named to the 2013 SEC Community Service Team, Dent sported a .971 fielding percentage. A four-year letterwinner for the Orange and Blue who enjoyed three-straight trips to the NCAA College World Series, he was chosen to the CWS All-Tournament Team in 2011 and played in 184 games with 101 starts as a Gator.
Chosen in the seventh round by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 210th overall pick, Gibson is suiting up for the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops of the Class A short-season Northwest League. Over 32 appearances this season, the second-highest total on Florida, he was 2-1 with a 4.42 ERA. The southpaw registered 31 strikeouts and issued 20 walks in 38.2 innings, while limiting opponents to a .254 batting average. Gibson notched the Gatorsí victory at No. 7 Florida State on April 9 with two scoreless frames and earned the decision as UF completed a weekend sweep of No. 8 South Carolina at McKethan Stadium on April 13.
In 23 outings during his sophomore campaign, Gibson was 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA and collected one save. In 24.1 innings of work, the lefty totaled 17 strikeouts, permitted 11 walks and held foes to a .250 average. He did not surrender any runs during his first eight appearances of the campaign. Gibson picked up first career save to complete the Gatorsí sweep of No. 8 Miami (Fla.), as Florida was down 5-3 entering the final frame and plated five runs to defeat the Hurricanes for the 11th-consecutive time.
Ratliff, a 13th-round choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks at No. 390, has joined Gibson on the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops of the Class A short-season Northwest League. Ratliff sat out the 2013 campaign at Florida after transferring from Jacksonville University.