Florida Baseball Preview

Top ranked Florida opens up its season against the University of Cincinnati Bearcats tonight at 6:30 under the lights of McKethan Stadium. Florida returns seven starters and nine pitchers from the most successful team in school history. Furthermore, Coach Pat McMahon and staff signed one of the top classes' in the country.

A quick preview of the Gators' projected starters and reserves are listed below. Gator Country will update this list throughout the '06 season.

Catcher

  • Brian Jeroloman 6-0 190 L/R Jr. Wellington
  • Cody Neer 6-3 225 S/R Fr. Orlando
  • Greg Quatrino 6-0 215 R/R Sr. Tampa

Nobody cut down baserunners like Brian Jeroloman. It was almost comical at times watching would-be thieves cautiously take a lead. He threw 37 of 78 runners out. Jeroloman was named second team All-SEC. He was a member of the 2005 USA Baseball National Team. Greg Quatrino added insult to injury with a three-run shot in the ninth as Florida blasted Notre Dame in the Regional Finals. Cody Neer was one of the finest prep catchers in the land. He led the state with a .528 batting average.

First Base

  • Matt LaPorta 6-1 215 R/R Jr. Port Charlotte
  • Bryson Barber 6-1 225 L/R So. Pensacola

Working out at first base have been Matt LaPorta and Bryson Barber. LaPorta is the returning SEC Player of the Year. He was also a member of the 2005 USA Baseball National Team. LaPorta ripped 26 home runs while driving in 79 RBI's. There is no question that he is the most feared hitter in the conference. Barber saw limited action in 2005. he is expected to play a bigger role this season, perhaps as a designated hitter.

Second Base

  • Brandon McArthur 6-1 190 R/R So. Tampa
  • Avery Barnes 5-11 165 L/R Fr. High Springs

The saga of Brandon McArthur is the stuff of which movies are made. Mac came back last season and as the season progressed improved. He had a tremendous series against arch-rival Georgia. Barnes starred at Santa Fe High School last year under the tutelage of former Florida player Todd Gray. He earned the Class 3A Player of the Year Award.

Shortstop

  • Adam Davis 5-9 185 S/R Jr. Ft. Myers
  • Clayton Pisani 6-0 180 R/R Fr. Naples

Davis is yet another member of the prestigious 2005 USA Baseball Team. He was also named a third team All-America selection for the Gators. He moves to short in an effort to shore up a spot vacated by Justin Tordi. Davis will be one of Florida's leaders again in '06. Pisani is a two-time second team All-State player at Barron Collier High School.

Third Base

  • Matt Gaski 5-11 185 L/R So. Greensboro, N.C. or
  • David Cash 6-2 190 S/R Jr. Odessa

Gaski saw action last season when McArthur was struggling. He hit .364 in 11 at-bats. He should get a good opportunity to win the job early this spring. Cash earned second team honors playing in one of the toughest JUCO conferences in the nation for Chipola. He hit .354 for the Indians.

Outfield

  • Gavin Dickey (LF) 5-11 205 R/R Jr. Tallahassee
  • Chris Woods (CF) 5-10 175 L/L Sr. Gainesville
  • Brian Leclerc (RF) 5-10 185 L/L Jr. Clearwater

Two out of three ain't bad- or so the song goes. Gavin Dickey and Brian Leclerc return to form the outside of the Florida outfield. Dickey improved tremendously late in the season defensively. He started off solid at the plate, but tapered a little down the stretch in his first season as a starter. It will be interesting to see Dickey's improvement.

Leclerc was also very good defensively. He didn't hit the ball especially well down the stretch, but will be counted on to lift the Gators offensively. He was instrumental in Florida's wins in Regional action and against Florida State in the Super Regionals.

The Gators will miss centerfielder, leadoff man, and overall sparkplug Jeff Corsaletti, who is now playing in the Red Sox organization. Chris Woods is expected to take the first turn. Woods played in 22 games for the Gators and hit .167 in 12 at-bats. He scored six runs in those opportunities.

Pitcher

  • Bryan Ball 6-2 210 R/R Sr. Punta Gorda

Who else would take the mound for the Gators in the season opener? Ball was Florida's best pitcher through much of the 2005 season. A start like he had through the early season last year is exactly what the coaches are hoping will jump start the 2006 season. Ball took some time off during the season for soreness, but returned later in the year and performed very well.


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