Gator Baseball Team Surviving the Pros

The Gator Baseball team has lost several recruits and some possible returning players to professional baseball, but the loss of players may be coming to an end.

Seven players off the 2009 team have already signed pro contracts, but three of them were seniors. The players with eligibility remaining who have already moved on are relief pitchers Billy Bullock (3-3, 11 saves, 2.64) and Tony Davis (5-0, 2.25), shortstop Mike Mooney (.306, 2, 24, 18 errors) and catcher Buddy Munroe (.270, 5, 26). Davis is really the only disappointment in the bunch since the lefty really came on this season and would have been a key member of the pitching staff next spring.

Four Gator signees won't be making it to Gainesville. As expected first round pick Billy Borchering and second rounder LeVon Washington have made it clear they'll be professionals while pitchers David Holmberg and Mike Rayl have already inked pro contracts.

Perhaps the most notable indication is that centerfielder Matt den Dekker could very well return for his senior year. The highly touted defensive whiz struggled offensively last season (.296, 5, 37, 17-18 SB) and slid form a possible first round pick all the way to the 10th. Add in the fact he was chosen by Pittsburgh, a team that rarely if ever pays above "slot" and you have a strong chance the Gators will welcome him back. Lefty Kevin Chapman (1-0, 2.38) is also expected back despite being chosen in the 50th round by the Chicago White Sox. The departure of Davis could dramatically increase his load in 2010.

If things stay as they are the Gators will start with a nucleus of den Dekker, Preston Tucker (.364, 15, 85) and Josh Adams (.342, 8 52). Add in the Pigott brothers; Jonathan (.357, 6, 32) and Daniel (.301, 3, 21) plus Tyler Thompson, Clayton Pisani and Jerico Weitzel and you have quite a bit of proven talent for Kevin O'Sullivan as he begins his third season in the Florida dugout.

The pitching for next season will also start out in pretty good shape with the added experience of last year's freshman trio of Nick Maronde (3-1, 4.40), Alex Panteliodis (6-5, 4.38) and Anthony DeSclafani (6-3, 4.98). Jeff Barfield (2-1, 4.50), Greg Larson (3-2, 3.45), Clint Franklin (2-0, 3.00) and Justin Poovey (2-1, 5.73) all return as candidates for the bullpen. In addition to several standout recruits, the Gators also hope to add Tommy Toledo to the mix after missing all of 2009 following Tommy John surgery.

There's still a long time between now and the August 17 deadline for signing draft picks, but heading into the summer, things are looking pretty good for next year's Gator Baseball team.

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