Scrimmage Report: 1/30

The Gators are less than three weeks away from their season opener. The pitchers are starting to go deeper in the scrimmages in preparation for their first appearances on the mound at McKethan Stadium.

Sophomore right-hander Hudson Randall pitching:

Daniel Pigott grounded out to second base.

Brian Johnson grounded out to the pitcher.

Justin Shafer singled to left field.

Austin Maddox grounded out to first base.

Freshman left-hander Bobby Poyner pitching:

Preston Tucker doubled to deep right-center field.

Casey Turgeon singled to right field, Tucker scored.

Mike Zunino homered to right field, Turgeon scored.

Justin Shafer singled to right field.

Tyler Thompson doubled to left field, Shafer to third.

Inning called.

Randall pitching:

Connor Mitchell flew out to center field.

Cody Dent flew out to center field.

Taylor Gushue struck out swinging.

Cory Reid grounded out to third base.

Poyner pitching:

Sean Trent struck out swinging.

Zack Powers grounded out to third base.

Brandon Sedell grounded out to the pitcher.

Randall pitching:

Daniel Pigott grounded out to first base.

Preston Tucker reached on infield single to second base. Cory Reid pinch runs.

Wild pitch moved Reid to second base.

Nolan Fontana walked.

Mike Zunino singled to left field, Reid scored and Fontana to second. Casey Turgeon grounded out to first base, Fontana out at home after a rundown.

Poyner pitching:

Josh Tobias grounded out to second base.

Tyler Thompson walked.

Brian Johnson flew out to second base.

Austin Maddox doubled to deep right-center field.

Taylor Gushue flew out to right field.

OBSERVATIONS:

Randall didn't have much trouble in his first two innings. His command wasn't the same in the third inning, and I chalk it up to conditioning. These scrimmages are focused on building arm strength for the start of the season, so it's not uncommon to see something like this happen.

He looked good during the first two. He threw the cutter a lot today, including mixing it in to some right-handed hitters, which he didn't do much in the fall. I talked a lot about the pitch in the fall, and it looks the same to me. It will be a big weapon for him this year. I don't think his fastball got over 90 mph on the radar guns I saw, but that's nothing new.

He had a sequence today where Zunino fouled off a breaking ball away for the first strike and Randall busted him inside with a fastball on the next pitch to get strike two. He knows his velocity can't beat hitters, so he sets it up with a breaking ball, making the fastball look even faster than it is.

This was my first time seeing Poyner throw. He had Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss his senior season, and he didn't pitch any in the fall because of it. He wasn't a big time recruit, most likely because he doesn't light up the radar gun.

I didn't come in with high expectations, but I like what I saw after Poyner's first inning. With any pitcher that has Tommy John surgery, that last piece to come back is the command of pitches in the strike zone. His location wasn't sharp, but that's to be expected at this point because of the surgery.

He's smart and knows how to move his fastball around. His breaking ball was usually up in the strike zone, but again, there's no reason to fret about location with someone just off Tommy John surgery. Poyner is built a lot like former Florida left-hander Tony Davis. His velocity isn't as high as Davis' used to be, but Poyner can be a good reliever with some time under his belt.

At the plate, Austin Maddox looked better to me today. This probably isn't a coincidence, but I thought he had good swings because he was trying to hit the ball to right field. He had a massive 2010 season with that same mindset. His double in the final inning looked like the freshman version of his swing. Florida would gladly take the version of Maddox that won SEC Freshman of the Year, but this offense doesn't need that kind of production to be effective. They just need Maddox to get on base more than last season, and he will be just fine.

Consider this your daily reminder of how good Zunino is. His home run in Poyner's first inning of work was something to experience. It was an off-speed pitch that got Zunino out on his front foot, but he kept his hands back and lined the ball over the right field fence near the foul pole. Scouts sitting around me were actually laughing at how easy he made it look. One was even saying that it looked like Zunino took a half swing at the ball.

Pitching Lines:

Hudson Randall: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 K.

Bobby Poyner: 2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 R, 1 K.


Fightin Gators Top Stories