Scrimmage Report -- 1/28

The Gators opened practice on Friday afternoon and didn't waste time creating a competitive environment. There was a four-inning scrimmage that ended practice, giving the pitchers a chance to get their arms ready for the season. With three weeks until opening day, the pitchers started practice as dominant as expected.

The scrimmage lasted four innings and was controlled to the way Florida coaches wanted. They substituted runners and players on defense at will to keep the flow of the scrimmage.

Brian Johnson threw two perfect innings and looked like he was in midseason form. The sophomore left-hander didn't allow a base runner and his fastball had plenty of velocity on it. Johnson was effective as a freshman because he wasn't scared to come inside on hitters with his fastball. He did that with a lot of success on Friday.

Johnson has been throwing his changeup for only 18 months, but it has turned into an important weapon. He threw it against center fielder Bryson Smith to get a strike early in the count, getting Smith off balance and having no chance. Johnson did nothing to make me think he won't be the Friday or Saturday starting pitcher when the season starts.

The most pleasant surprise was Tommy Toledo. The redshirt junior right-hander has been through a lot in his Florida career. He was a third round pick out of Alonso High School but elected to attend college. Toledo had success as a freshman before needing offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

He started last year as the Friday night pitcher, but he broke his nose and suffered multiple facial fractures when he took a line drive off the face against Charleston Southern. He missed two months and wasn't the same when he returned.

Now, he could be in perfect position to have a big impact. Toledo is 18 months out of the labrum surgery, which is usually what the recovery time before the pitcher regains full health.

He looked dominant Friday. Toledo was throwing harder than at any point I can remember since he got to campus. He would overthrow the fastball sometimes, but he dialed it back in and threw well. His slider has always been a knockout pitch, and it got at least one strikeout Friday.

Johnson and Toledo threw two innings each. The only base runner was a single that Johnson actually hit off Toledo.

Freshmen pitchers Daniel Gibson and Keenan Kish threw two innings each.

Gibson throws 90-91 mph and his fastball overwhelmed a lot of hitters. It gets good sink, and hitters were often late on it. The left-hander allowed one base runner. He would be an ideal candidate to start the year as a midweek pitcher, but this team's depth might not make that possible.

Kish wasn't sharp. His location was off from the first pitch he threw. He walked the bases loaded before getting Josh Adams to foul out. Kish hit Preston Tucker in the knee on the next pitch, and head coach Kevin O'Sullivan ended the inning. Tucker iced the knee and looked fine.

He struggled in his second inning. He gave up a hit to Brian Johnson, who moved to third base on a double by Mike Zunino. Tyler Thompson followed later with a two-out single that scored both runs.

Kish survives because of location, and it wasn't sharp Friday.

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