Baseball Team Showing Positive Signs

Kevin O'Sullivan isn't the first Gator baseball coach to lose his first series against Miami in Coral Gables and he probably won't be the last. But his team did show something in pulling out the final game of the three game set to return to Gainesville with a 6-2 record.

Florida's pitching improved over the course of the weekend and held Miami to just two runs in the Sunday win. Now eight games into the season, Florida has only played 14 percent of the season, but there are some positive signs about the 2008 Gators.

Cole Figueroa --- The sophomore shortstop beat Miami with a grand slam in the eighth inning and is clearly the best player on the team. Figueroa is hitting .393 and leads the team with 13 RBI. His father Bien was a standout at Florida State but it looks like son will be better than father.

Tommy Toledo --- After two solid starts the freshman right hander looks like the best the Gators have. They've been careful with his valuable arm, limiting him to five innings in each start, but that's still more innings per start than any other Florida pitcher has given them.

Patrick Keating --- He's only gone nine and a third innings in two starts, but he's been very good, allowing just one earned run. His hits are higher than you'd like, but so far so good.

Jonathan Pigott --- The sophomore is Florida's leading hitter (.435) and has a terrific on-base percentage (.567). He has one homer and has played errorless ball in right field.

Josh Adams --- No newcomer has had the impact on the lineup that Adams has. He took advantage of the suspension of Matt den Dekker to prove he belonged out there every day. Adams is the only Gator with two homers and is second to Figueroa with eleven RBI.

Stephen Locke --- It's been a long way back from Tommy John surgery, but the early results are encouraging. Locke won five games as a freshman in 2005 (5-2, 4.05), missed all of 2006 and was far from his old self in nine starts last year (3-3, 6.95). Locke has made two appearances this season, giving up just two runs in seven innings. If he makes it all the way back he could well end up in the SEC rotation before all is said and done.

Running the Bases --- The Gators have already stolen 24 bases and only been caught once. Last year Florida was the most sedentary team I have ever seen with just 39 steals all season. Figueroa (7-7) has already matched his total from last year – a total that was tied for the team lead.

The Gators have six games between the Miami trip and the start of SEC play against Auburn on March 14. In that time Florida will continue to try to get two key players straightened out.

Kyle Mullaney --- Mullaney was solid for the Gators last season (4-2, 4.25) but his first two starts have not gone well. The sophomore righty has lasted a total of just seven and a third innings while allowing 17 hits and posting an earned run average of 9.82. Your Friday night starter can't have that type of ERA.

Jon Townsend --- The Gator third baseman was a solid hitter last season, posting a .280 average with six homers and 34 RBI, however 2008 has not been kind of one of the few seniors on this Gator squad. Townsend is below the Mendoza line (.174) with a homer and three RBI. He has to be a force in the middle of the lineup.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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