5. Kevin Stypulkowski: The big-bodied freshman catcher will see time as the backup to Taylor Gushue this season. He could also work his way into the lineup as the designated hitter or even first baseman. The first thing that jumps out about the 6-2, 210-pounder is his ability to hit. He's a switch hitter with power that should increase with an extra year in the strength program in Gainesville.Behind the plate, he's serviceable. Stypulkowsi needs to clean up his throwing times down to second base, but that's expected out of a freshman. Gushue needed to do the same when he got to campus, and he has turned into an impressive catch-and-throw catcher behind the plate.
4. Harrison Bader: Tyler Thompson's decision to leave the program before his senior year opened the door for more playing time out of Bader. The right-handed hitter has a solid line drive swing that is flat and stays through the zone for an extended period of time. He's strong and should hit plenty of doubles.The biggest asset of his game is the speed. Bader was timed as one of the fastest players on the team in the fall and could be given a shot to showcase that speed in the lineup on opening night. With his speed comes solid defense. He's capable of playing left field or center field and should have a good career in Gainesville.
3. Eric Hanhold: As a senior at East Lake High School, Hanhold experienced a jump in velocity that took him from the upper 80s to the low 90s. Mixed with his 6-5, 195-pound frame, Hanhold has an exciting combination of ability and upside. He has been effective during the fall and spring scrimmages.When his frame adds some weight with the Florida strength staff, the velocity should take another tick up. These are the types of players that can go through big jumps during their college careers, and Hanhold has the frame to do that, but he'll also be a factor as a freshman.
2. Tucker Simpson: This was the best freshman on the mound during fall and spring scrimmages. Simpson throws three pitches for strikes and attacks hitters. He's what Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan wants on the mound — attacking, working fast and mixing his pitches. That's why Simpson is in the fight for the third starter job but will see plenty of time on the mound either way.His curveball and changeup are both pitches Simpson can locate to both sides of the plate. His 6-6, 220-pound frame makes him an imposing figure on the mound. His fastball sits in the low 90s.
1.Richie Martin: The Gators couldn't have found a more perfect replacement for Nolan Fontana, a three-year starter at shortstop. The Florida coaches might've found another three-year replacement to take over. Martin can really run. He's a better overall athlete than Fontana, who was an excellent fielder and base runner because of his instincts. Martin has made a habit of stealing the show at scrimmages with his defense. He has plenty of range and arm to stay at shortstop.Martin will also be an important piece at the plate. O'Sullivan has already said he expects the freshman to hit leadoff and be a difference maker on the bases. He doesn't have a lot of power in his swing, but that isn't a big part of his game. He has enough pop to drive the ball in the gap and take extra bases with his speed. He also has an advanced feel for the drag bunt.