After a summer in the Cape Cod League, Florida second baseman Casey Turgeon didn’t waste time showing off his progress. The sophomore launched a two-run homer off roommate Aaron Rhodes that landed on the road behind right field in his second at bat of the day. He took an impressive round of batting practice before the scrimmage, too, and he looks a little stronger than he was as a freshman last year.
After playing mostly in left field last year, Justin Shafer played second base on Tuesday. He was a high school infielder and could play all over the field this season.
Vickash Ramjit had two at bats and hit the ball hard twice on a single to left field and a fly out to the right field warning track. Center fielder Tyler Thompson had two at bats but didn’t run either of them out. Thompson is still recovering after tearing his ACL in March, and the coaches will move slowly with the fifth-year senior.
Now to the newcomers.
Freshman catcher Kevin Stypulkowski is hard to miss. He has easy power in batting practice, and the ball jumps off his bat. He added an RBI single in the last inning of the scrimmage, and he should develop more power as he gets stronger in a college weight program. Despite his size, he looked good behind the plate and most believe he can stay there. However, Stypulkowski also worked at first base during the scrimmage.
Freshman shortstop Richie Martin is an impressive athlete. He has a good swing and can handle the bat, but the most impressive part was watching him in base running drills. He took his lead at second base and rounded third in stride to score, flashing his impressive speed. During the scrimmage, he almost beat out a routine ground ball to shortstop. He’s an immediate impact player.
Freshman outfielder Harrison Bader was committed to Maryland but decommitted late in the process when head coach Erik Bakich left to take the job at Michigan. Bader was a late addition to the Florida class, but he looks to be a good one. He hits the ball hard to the opposite field and has a broad chest. His swing reminded me of former Florida outfielder Bryson Smith.
Freshman corner infielder Brady Roberson will be a power bat. He was listed at 5-11 in high school, but the ball jumps at contact. Rhodes threw a well-located fastball on the outside part of the plate, and Roberson hit it to the right field warning track. The power is there and could earn him immediate playing time.
Johnny Magliozzi and Corey Stump were only two returning pitchers that threw on Tuesday.
Magliozzi struck out 25 hitters in 17.1 innings in the Cape Cod League this summer, and he showed the progress on Tuesday. His fastball was 90-91 mph, but he was more aggressive with it than he was as a freshman. He threw it well to both sides of the plate and got ahead of hitters—another issue he had last year.
He struck out Turgeon and freshman Christian Dicks to end his only inning of work, recording both with a changeup for strike three swinging. It was his best off-speed pitch when he got to campus, and that hasn’t changed. Magliozzi also changed his breaking ball. It was a 12-6 curveball last year, but he changed it this year to make it less loopy with a sharper break. He looks poised for a big sophomore year.
Stump was strong. Kevin O’Sullivan said they dropped his arm slot down, and it was very successful on Tuesday. He faced all lefties during the scrimmage, which gave him an advantage, but he took advantage of it and had a clean inning. Stump was my pick for breakout pitcher in 2013, and I’m not backing off that one bit. He’ll throw the change up more when he faces right-handers, which he didn’t do once on Tuesday, but he could start or relieve in the spring.
The comparison Stump has heard in his entire life is Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale because they are both tall, lanky left-handers from Lakeland. Sale was the first name O’Sullivan mentioned when talking about the new arm slot.
The freshmen pitchers all dealt with the same thing—throwing consistent strikes. It’s hard to make too many judgments based on one outing, especially the first outing at Florida for all three.
Jason Carmichael was the first one on the mound, and it was easy to see how good his arm is. The freshman was 88-90 mph during most of the day but has been 90-92 mph in bullpens this fall. The right-hander’s fastball command wasn’t very good, but nerves and anxiousness of first time on the mound at McKethan Stadium could have played a part in it.
The first thing that jumps out is that Carmichael has a knockout curveball. It’s really good, and he knows how to command it. He started it at the front shoulder of right-handed hitters and dropped it over the plate for a strike. Then, later in the count, he was able to start it over the heart of the plate and let it fall out of the strike zone, getting hitters to swing over the top of it and miss.
Tucker Simpson was the best freshman pitcher of the day. The right-hander was listed at 6-7, 220 pounds in high school and looked every bit of it on Tuesday. The first thing that jumped out about Simpson is that he’s a strike thrower. He got ahead of hitters and was able to blow his fastball by them late in the count.
His changeup produced off-balance swings and weak contact on Tuesday. His curveball was up in the zone or up and out of the zone most of the time, but that should change when he gets more settled in. One of the things the Florida coaches loved about Simpson is his ability to throw all three pitches for strikes.
Danny Young was a little known addition to the recruiting class, but the freshman left-hander will pitch in the spring. He pitched in the upper 80s with his fastball on Tuesday and got two quick outs in the first inning. Then came the control issues. He fell behind 3-0 before throwing a strike and then walking the hitter. Kevin O’Sullivan was on the sideline using it as a teaching moment for his young pitchers.
O’Sullivan reiterated to the group the importance of pitching to contact and trying to keep their pitch counts down. After getting two quick outs, it was a perfect opportunity for Young to keep attacking and get a quick third out.
Young locates the fastball on both sides of the plate and could be a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.