2022 College Top 25 Preview: No. 6 Florida
Last season: 38-22 (17-13 in SEC), reached regionals
Final ranking: No. 19
Coach (record at school): Kevin O’Sullivan (585-278, 14 years)
The good news: The talent in Gainesville remains elite. Florida’s recruiting class this fall ranked No. 2 in the nation, extending the program’s streak of top-five recruiting classes to a record nine years. Florida also returns center fielder Jud Fabian, who last year ranked ninth in the country with 20 home runs and was drafted 40th overall by the Red Sox but was unable to come to terms on a deal. With fourth-year juniors Fabian, Kris Armstrong and Kendrick Calilao all in the lineup in 2022, Florida will have plenty of experience and power potential. The Gators defense also looks to be strong. Fabian and shortstop Josh Rivera are strong, experienced defenders up the middle and Florida has excellent defensive options behind the plate in Mac Guscette and Rene Lastres as it replaces Nathan Hickey. Depth is a common theme around the diamond for the Gators, who have strong options at nearly every position.
The bad news: While Florida’s offense returns a lot of experience, the same cannot be said for its pitching staff. It lost nearly three-quarters of the 529 innings pitched in 2021, meaning the staff will undergo a significant makeover this spring. Despite the losses, the talent level remains high on the mound for the Gators. Finding the right mix behind lefthander Hunter Barco, who returns for his third season in the rotation, will be critical. Righthander Brandon Sproat pitched with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team during the summer and should team with Barco at the front of the rotation. Righthanders Tyler Nesbitt and Nick Pogue both have big upside and are coming off injury. If they are able to get back to their previous form, they will pitch important innings. The Gators also brought in a strong group of newcomers on the mound, led by lefthanders Philip Abner and Pierce Coppola and righthander Brandon Neely, all of whom figure to see innings early in their career.
Player to know: Hunter Barco, LHP
Barco is entering his third season in the Florida rotation and will this spring take over as the staff’s ace with Tommy Mace now in pro ball. He last season went 10-3, 4.01 with 94 strikeouts in 83 innings. He was one of the best prep players in the 2019 class to get to campus and has lived up to that billing, thanks to his powerful fastball-slider combination. He has the potential to be the best pitcher in the SEC.
Path to Omaha: Florida’s lineup has the potential to be a high-flying group capable of hitting for power and showing impressive on-base skills. That will help ease the pressure on the Gators’ new-look pitching staff, which is light on SEC experience outside of Barco. But, ultimately, Florida will need some of its inexperienced arms to step up if it is to go on a deep postseason run. The talent is there for a return to the College World Series but there will be some growing pains along the way.
Ranking College Baseball's Top 50 Names In 2022
The four-time winner of the award for the top name in college baseball, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Itchy Burts, graduated at the end of last season, leaving a void at the top of this list.
Did not play—Injured
Did not play—Injured