2019 Preseason Top 25 Capsule: No. 4 Florida
Last Season: 49-21 (20-10 SEC); reached College World Series.
Final ranking: No. 3.
Head Coach (record at school): Kevin O’Sullivan (497-229, 11 years).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: RHP Tyler Dyson (No. 13), SS Brady McConnell (No. 87).
The Good News: Florida has made four straight trips to Omaha and has consistently proven that it can reload year after year under coach Kevin O’Sullivan. The Gators certainly have some pieces to replace this year, but there is still an impressive amount of depth in Gainesville. Florida has lost some key, experienced arms, but righthanders Tyler Dyson, Jack Leftwich and Tommy Mace can form one of the best rotations in the country. Florida brought in another top-five recruiting class that will help build its bullpen depth and provide some position players who can quickly make an impact, such as outfielder Jud Fabian and infielders Kendrick Calialo and Cory Acton. With Wil Dalton, Austin Langworthy and Nelson Maldonado returning, the heart of Florida’s lineup remains solid.
The Bad News: Florida has to replace some significant pieces, including first-round picks Jonathan India, Brady Singer —the 2018 College Player of the Year —and Jackson Kowar, All-American closer Michael Byrne and four-year starter J.J. Schwarz. The Gators are used to seeing waves of talent move on to pro ball, but filling those spots is no easy task. Florida will start two freshmen in the infield, as well as sophomore shortstop Brady McConnell, who was the highest ranked position player to make it to college in 2017 but was limited by a wrist injury as a freshman. McConnell has the tools to be one of the best shortstops in the country, and Florida will get a big boost if he plays to that potential. Defense is always a strength for the Gators, and their new infield has worked hard to get up to speed, but now they must prove they can do it when the lights come on.
Player To Know: Austin Langworthy, OF.
Florida’s offense last year got a big boost from India’s breakout junior season. To expect that level of production from Langworthy is unfair, but he could follow a similar path in that India came to Gainesville as a highly regarded recruit and produced two solid years before having a spectacular junior season. Scouts have long loved Langworthy’s swing and hittability. If he produces a bit more power to go with his on-base skills, he could be one of the better hitters in the SEC.
Path To Omaha: Florida knows the path well, having been to the CWS eight times in the last decade. O’Sullivan has never hesitated to play freshmen, showing a willingness to take lumps early in the season for the postseason payoff. The Gators will follow that blueprint again this season and will need their young players to step up. Florida likely won’t be as powerful offensively as it was a year ago, meaning it will need to get the most out of its speed and athleticism. On the mound, Singer, Kowar and Byrne carried a heavy load the past two years. Now, the Gators either need new pitchers to step up in a big way or to rely on their increased depth. If the young Gators can grow over the course of the season, they should be hitting their stride in May, setting them up for another Omaha run.
Strikeout Records Fall Between Rancho Cucamonga And Inland Empire On Opening Day
After more than 18 months since their last official game, most minor leaguers figure to be understandably rusty in the early part of the 2021 season.
|1B||Kendrick Calialao||Fr. (HS -- Orlando)|
|3B||Cory Acton||Fr. (HS -- Plantation, Fla.)|
|CF||Jud Fabian||Fr. (HS -- Ocala, Fla.)|
|RP||Hunter Ruth||R-FR. (Did not play -- Injury)|