Gator Baseball Lands No. 5 Ranked Class

The Florida baseball recruiting class isn't loaded with multiple elite prospects like last year, but head coach Kevin O'Sullivan is bringing his third-straight top five recruiting class to Gainesville. Collegiate Baseball released their rankings Tuesday and placed the Gators freshmen class as the fifth best in the country.

The Gators struck gold when Karsten Whitson decided to come to college. The San Diego Padres selected him with the 9th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, and they negotiated until the midnight of August 16th deadline. A deal wasn't reached, with Whitson reportedly turning down $2.1 million.

He provides a future top of the rotation arm. The right-hander sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and has touched 96 mph. His slider was ranked by many as the top high school slider in the country last year. The changeup is a work in progress, but O'Sullivan, who also serves as Florida's pitching coach, specializes in teaching the pitch.

Left-hander Daniel Gibson, right-hander Keenan Kish, right-hander Jonathan Crawford and right-hander Frank Dejiulio will add depth to a pitching staff that already has multiple capable arms.

Third baseman Zack Powers has the best chance to start of the players in this class. He played shortstop in high school, but his long, lanky frame projects as a future third baseman. Powers hit .411 as a senior at Armwood High School, including 11 extra base hits and three home runs in 73 at-bats. The expectation is for his 6-3, 190-pound frame to fill out with more muscle, which will produce more power in his swing.

Florida fans shouldn't be surprised if Powers is the opening day starter at third base. His performance in fall practice will go a long way towards locking up the starting job. Infielders Jacob Tillotson, Tyler Palmer and walk-on Alex Freedman will provide depth.

The Florida recruiting class consists of only eight scholarship players.

LSU was ranked as the top recruiting class in the country. They signed 19 players, 11 from the high school ranks. San Diego (17 players), Oregon (12 players) and UCLA (nine players) round out the rest of the top five.

Defending national champion South Carolina came in seventh. Vanderbilt (10th), Arkansas (14th), Kentucky (16th), Mississippi State (18th), Mississippi (21st), Auburn (26th) and Alabama (37th) rounded out the SEC schools in the top 40.

Tennessee and Georgia were the only SEC schools that didn't make it.

Florida State ranked 17th and Miami finished 23rd. Central Florida was listed as 20th.
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