Gators in the Minor Leagues

Mike Zunino is playing for the Everett AquaSox

The most decorated Florida baseball team of all time has gone its separate ways and most players have started their professional careers. Mike Zunino didn't surprise anyone with a torrid start to his minor league game with the Seattle Mariners, while opponents can't keep Nolan Fontana off the bases. The Florida presence in the minor league is hard to miss.

Mike Zunino hasn't wasted time. The Seattle Mariners elected to play it safe with him and send the catcher to short season ball. As expected, Zunino has been on a torrid pace at the plate.

In ten games, Zunino is hitting .385 (15-39) with four home runs, four doubles, 12 runs scored and five RBI. He has struck out six times in 39 at bats and worked five walks. He is playing for the Everett Aquasox now, but that shouldn't last long before a promotion to the next level.

Nolan Fontana is doing exactly what he did at Florida. He's getting on base. The shortstop is hitting .296 with a .506 on-base percentage in Low A for the Houston Astros. Fontana has walked 22 times and struck out just 12 times in 16 games. This is the reason he was valued so high when the Astros pegged him with the first pick in the second round of the MLB Draft in June.

Preston Tucker was the last Florida player to sign this year. In just six games in short season ball for the Houston Astros, Tucker is hitting .348 with a .400 on-base percentage. Tucker smacked his only home run in during the third game he played and drove in five runs. On the year, he has eight RBI and has scored five runs while playing in the outfield.

Steven Rodriguez has been dominant at Low A for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In five relief appearances, the left-hander has tossed five innings, allowing four hits, no runs, no walks and has struck out eight hitters for a .211 batting average against. Rodriguez has recorded six outs on ground balls for every one he has recorded in the air.

Greg Larson has been up and down during six relief appearances. The right-hander has thrown 15.2 innings in short season ball for the Boston Red Sox, allowing 18 hits, eight earned runs, seven walks and 16 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .281 against Larson.

Austin Maddox, Brian Johnson and Hudson Randall haven't made their first professional start yet, but this isn't a surprise with the amount of innings they threw during Florida's College World Series run. Johnson said he expects to make his first start in the Red Sox organization near the end of July.

In eight games at rookie ball for the Cincinnati Reds, Daniel Pigott hit .324 with one home run, 12 RBI and five runs scored. Pigott hasn't played since July 13.

Nick Maronde has been dominant at High A for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Maronde has thrown 53 innings, allowing 34 hits, 11 earned runs, 14 walks and striking out 52 hitters. Opponents are hitting .180 against him. The Angels elected to make Maronde a starter when they drafted him, and the switch has paid off.

In his last two starts, Maronde has allowed three hits and five walks over 13 innings while striking out 16 hitters.

Maybe the biggest surprise Florida player in the minor leagues is Bryson Smith. After an inconsistent career in Gainesville, Smith has skyrocketed through the Reds system. He is currently at Double A and hitting .322 in 20 games for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

Josh Adams has spent the season at Low A for the Florida Marlins. Adams is hitting .259 with 13 home runs and 66 RBI in 92 games played. The infielder has 25 doubles and a .433 slugging percetange.

An inconsistent career has led Matt LaPorta back to Triple A. The first baseman is hitting .279 with 17 home runs and 46 RBI for the Cleveland Indians' affiliate with a .517 slugging percentage.

Cole Figueroa has worked his way up to Triple A with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. In 60 games with the Durham Bulls, Figueroa is hitting .294 with one home run and 35 RBI. He has 13 doubles and four triples to go along with a .353 on-base percentage.

Right-hander Tommy Toledo was recently promoted to High A for the Milwaukee Brewers. In three appearances, Toledo has allowed five hits and four earned runs in 4.1 innings while striking out four and walking three. A rough first outing hurts those numbers. Since then, Toledo has thrown 3.1 innings, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out four hitters as a reliever.

Former Florida closer Kevin Chapman was dealt to the Houston Astros before the season, but a chance of scenery hasn't slowed his progress. Chapman has a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings thrown out of the bullpen with 47 strikeouts and just two home runs allowed. Hitters are batting .214 against Chapman at Double A.

Ben McMahan spent his career behind the plate as a backup at catcher for the Gators, but the Brewers drafted him and moved him to outfield. The switch has been positive for McMahan. In 74 games, McMahan is hitting .302 with 17 doubles, nine home runs and 46 RBI. He has added seven stolen bases.

Anthony DeSclafani is 8-3 with a 3.24 ERA for the Blue Jays Low A team. He has allowed 97 hits, 16 walks and just three home runs in 83.1 innigs this season.

The New York Mets drafted Alex Panteliodis knowing he would need hip surgery and miss the 2011 season. This year, he has gotten back on the mound and showed inconsistency. In 15 starts and 65.2 innings at Low A, Panteliodis has allowed 77 hits, three home runs and struck out 40 hitters.

He had his best start in a while on July 20, tossing six innings, allowing six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out ten hitters.

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