Despite all the talent lost from last year’s Florida team, there’s still a lot of ability still left on the roster. It’s just unproven. And until the lights come on at 7 p.m. Friday, there won’t be many answers on what exactly to expect out of these young players.
There are plenty of scrimmages to base these observations on. The Gators have been scrimmaging during every practice in the fall and spring while trying to prepare for the 2013 season. That’s where these observations are coming from.
Positions players (with 2012 statistics):
C Taylor Gushue, So., 6-2, 205 lbs., Bats S/Throws R, Boca Raton, Fla. (Calvary Christian Academy)- 2012: .206 batting average, 329 on-base percentage, five home runs, 21 RBI, 21 runs in 39 starts. It was a roller coaster ride for Gushue during his freshman year. He elected to skip his senior season of high school to enroll at Florida in January of 2012 and start to prepare for the season while learning from All-American catcher Mike Zunino. That’s all he was expected to do while getting some occasional at-bats.
Instead, Gushue hit his way into the lineup on opening night. Florida pitchers couldn’t get him out in intrasquads. Instead of opening 2012 hitting in the middle of the lineup for Calvary Christian Academy, Gushue was hitting sixth for the No. 1 team in the country.
He homered on the first pitch he saw of his college career. Through the first 20 games, Gushue was hitting .290 with five home runs. That’s when things started to unravel. Opposing teams started to get him out with off-speed pitches, and he wasn’t able to adjust.
The belief is that he changed that in the offseason. His swing has been much shorter in the scrimmages and pitch recognition has been better, too. The big adjustment came behind the plate, where the Florida coaches cleaned up his mechanics for throwing runners out, and his arm strength has improved.
C Kevin Stypulkowski, Fr., 6-2, 210 lbs., Bats S/Throws R, Lake Worth, Fla. (The Kings Academy)- 2012: n/a. This freshman looks like a veteran. He’s a switch hitter that is good from both sides. Once he spends a year in a college weight program, he should be a consistent power hitter in the middle of the order. There’s still enough power there to be a factor in the lineup as a freshman.
He’ll be the one that spells Gushue behind the plate to keep him fresh. Stypulkowski’s defense has improved since coming to campus. His body doesn’t strike you as one that would be able to stick behind the plate, but he is deceptively athletic and throws the ball well despite being a freshman.
SS Richie Martin, Fr., 6-0, 180 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Brandon, Fla. (Bloomingdale HS)- 2012: n/a. Every year there’s a freshman on the roster that puts together a strong fall and draws rave reviews from his coaches and teammates. This year, it’s Richie Martin. He’s the prototype for the kind of player the Florida coaches want to load onto the roster. He’s athletic, can play defense at a high level, steal bases and gets on base.
There was rarely an offseason scrimmage when Martin didn’t do something to steal the show. Whether it was an impressive defensive play, a perfectly placed bunt for a base hit, or the time he struck out and reached second base when the third strike went to the backstop, the freshman is a spark plug.
He has a smooth, level swing that can spray the ball to all fields. He’s probably limited to gap power early in his career, but power isn’t his game. He gets on base and becomes a pest. And that’s exactly what the Florida coaches signed him to do.
There are big shoes to fill after former Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana was taken with the first pick of the second round in the 2012 MLB Draft. But the raw talent is there. It’s about harnessing it and becoming a complete player.
2B Casey Turgeon, So., 5-9, 170 lbs., Bats L/Throws R, Palm Harbor, Fla. (Dunedin HS)- 2012: .281 batting average, .368 on-base percentage, four home runs, 30 RBI, 35 runs scored in 65 games played. O’Sullivan wasn’t shy with his praise before Turgeon’s freshman year. Before he even played his first game in a Florida uniform, the head coach proclaimed his second baseman as a future big leaguer and All-American. No pressure.
Even with the bar set that high, Turgeon lived up to the billing, being named Freshman All-American while starting all but two games in 2012. He has a smooth glove and the range to play shortstop at the college level if needed. Martin’s ability to hold the position gives the Gators two strong defensive players up the middle.
Turgeon is aggressive at the plate. He’ll take some swings that his smaller frame doesn’t look like its capable of, and he’ll swing often. He walked 27 times in 270 plate appearances as a freshman. Turgeon is a perfect fit hitting second in the lineup. When Martin gets on first base, the hole between first and second base should be one the left-hander can take advantage of during the season.
The natural expectation for Turgeon is the next step in his progression. The freshman season is all about feeling out the college game. With an understanding of what the grind of an SEC season is like, the sophomore should have a bigger season with the bat.
1B/OF Vickash Ramjit, Sr., 6-3, 205 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Miami, Fla. (Christopher Columbus HS)- 2012: .273 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, five home runs, 20 RBI, 21 runs in 33 starts. The senior will take over the reigns as the leader of the team. He has been a vocal leader in recent years, but with so many experienced players getting more playing time, he wasn’t seen as the leader of the team. That’s no longer the case.
His increased playing time is out of necessity, but Ramjit has worked hard in the offseason. He was the talk of fall practice after adjusting his swing and hitting over .400 against Florida pitchers. The swing is shorter and more balanced. He doesn’t swing at pitches out of the strike zone as much as he did in recent years.
That’s what slowed Ramjit in recent years. He struggled to lay off offspeed pitches in the dirt and got himself out multiple times. His shorter swing allows him to see the pitch longer before deciding whether to swing or not.
He’ll also see time in the outfield this season. O’Sullivan wants to leave him at first base because of his defensive strengths, but if it makes the lineup better, Zack Powers could play first base while moving Ramjit to the outfield.
3B Josh Tobias, So., 5-10, 200 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Greensboro, N.C. (Southeast Guilford HS)- 2012: .252 batting average, .320 on-base percentage, zero home runs, 10 RBI, 26 runs in 44 starts. Tobias got off to a slow start last season before fracturing his hamate bone at South Carolina. It kept him out four weeks before trying to get back in a groove after the injury was healed. Once getting back into playing condition, Tobias fought some inconsistency at the plate.
He still has a flair for the dramatic with his glove. Tobias has excellent range at third base and can make some outstanding plays because of his instincts at the position. His throwing motion isn’t pretty, but he always finds a way to hit the first baseman in the chest.
He needs to be more consistent this year, and having a year of experience should help that happen. He’s the prototype of what O’Sullivan is looking for on the recruiting trail — a good athlete that can run and be a factor on the bases. To make that happen, he has to get on base more this season.
3B/1B Zack Powers, RSo., 6-3, 200 lbs., Bats L/Throws R, Seffner, Fla. (Armwood HS)- 2012: n/a — missed season after torn labrum surgery. Powers has become the forgotten man in the lineup. He was the third base selection on the SEC All-Freshman team in 2011 while hitting .250 in 64 at-bats. Powers was actually set to see time on the mound in 2012 before he missed the entire season after needing surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.
The coaches brought him along slow in the fall and Powers will be ready for the season. When he got to Gainesville, the expectation was for Powers to gain weight and add some power to his swing. That would be a welcomed addition to the Florida lineup if it happens this year, but he looks more like a line drive hitter at this point. The coaches are very happy with where his swing is at heading into the season.
3B/1B Brady Roberson, Fr., 5-10, 195 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Royal Palm Beach, Fla. (Palm Beach Central HS)- 2012: n/a. His frame isn’t one of a power hitter, but Roberson can really hit. With family members having successful careers at Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida, Roberson hurt his foot in the fall and missed the last half of practices. The coaches have been careful with him in the spring, and his running has been hindered by it. Truth is, speed will never be a part of his game. If he’s healthy enough to hit, he will get plenty of at-bats this spring.
His power comes from strong forearms and hands. It produces good bat speed, and even though the ideal size isn’t there, Roberson will hit and create hard contact at the college level. He’ll be very involved in the lineup immediately.
INF Cody Dent, Sr., 6-0, 190 lbs., Bats L/Throws R, Boynton Beach, Fla. (Park Vista HS)- 2012: .134 batting average, 217 on-base percentage, zero home runs, four RBI, nine runs in 24 starts. Dent has created a reputation for himself as a defensive player since coming to Gainesville. Even as a freshman, he secured the starting job at third base in the College World Series when the Gators needed a stable defensive presence.
The bat is what has struggled. However, he put together a strong offseason at the plate and the coaches are optimistic about his swing. That’s not to say that he will put together All-SEC numbers at the plate, but there’s optimism if the Gators need to give him extended at-bats this year. His glove will always be there as a late-inning replacement if needed.
OF Justin Shafer, So., 6-2, 195, Bats R/Throws R, Lake Wales, Fla. (Lake Wales HS)- 2012: .284 batting average, .330 on-base percentage, zero home runs, 27 RBI, 11 runs scored in 44 starts. There was a time when the Florida coaches were recruiting Shafer and didn’t ever expect him to step into the batter’s box. He was first recruited exclusively as a pitcher, but when the Florida coaches saw him hit in high school more, they liked what they saw. His freshman year showed it was the right decision.
The scary part about Shafer is that he’s still learning. A former Division 1 quarterback prospect with offers from Florida International and other smaller level schools, Shafer passed it up to put his focus on the diamond. While playing only baseball for the first time in his life in 2012, the freshman earned a major role on one of the nation’s best team and ended the season as the team’s hottest hitter.
He carried that into a strong campaign in the Cape Cod League over the summer, where he hit .315 in 73 at-bats with four doubles and two home runs against the best college baseball prospects in the country. Shafer needs to improve his pitch selection at the plate and show more plate discipline this year.
The next step for Shafer should feature an improvement in defense. He was a liability in the outfield during 2012 but got better at the position as the season continued. He played mostly infield in high school, so there was a natural progression that needed to happen, but the Florida coaches are confident in him in the outfield as the season begins this year. He has the athleticism to do it and has shown that during the offseason in scrimmages. The coaches now trust him in center field if needed.
Shafer will also pitch on Sundays in the starting rotation, which is addressed later on.
OF Harrison Bader, Fr., 5-11, 180 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Bronxville, N.Y. (Horace Mann HS)- 2012: n/a. This is the type of player you’ll see show up on Florida’s campus more in the future. Bader can run and play defense. The bat still has a little further to go, but he’ll be able to hit enough to be a factor immediately. During one of the handful of days the Gators ran 60s in the fall, Bader ran the fastest time.
He’s among the fastest guys on the team, and he’ll get more time in center field now with Tyler Thompson leaving the team. He could also be a late inning pinch runner. There isn’t a ton of pop in his bat at this point, but he’ll hit enough to play. He was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class after previously being committed to Maryland and Michigan but backing out of that because of coaching changes.
OF Christian Dicks, Fr., 5-10, 190 lbs., Bats L/Throws L, Jacksonville, Fla. (Providence HS)- 2012: n/a. Another player that can run. Dicks was a running back at Providence High School and a productive high school tailback. Now focusing all of his attention on baseball, his skills should take another step forward. The Florida coaches would be very surprised if his swing didn’t translate to effectively hit at the college level. It’s a line drive approach that allows him to spray the ball to all fields.
He’s probably a better fit in left field than center. He gets good breaks on the ball, and that should only improve as he spends more time on the diamond.
OF Cory Reid, RFr., 6-2, 200 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Port St. Lucie HS)- 2012: n/a — redshirt. Reid redshirted in 2011, despite the Gators need in center field. He’s a good athlete that has worked hard on his swing since coming to campus. He’ll provide depth in the outfield this year. Reid also played some infield in high school and worked some innings there in the fall, but that isn’t expected to happen in a game.
OF Connor Mitchell, RSo., 6-0, 185, Bats L/Throws R, Tampa, Fla. (Plant HS)- 2012: .273 batting average, .333 on-base percentage, zero home runs, one RBI, four runs scored in zero starts and 17 games played. When Mitchell first got to Gainesville, I didn’t expect much out of him. He got some pinch-hit appearances during midweek games in 2012 and handled himself well. It’s not smart to expect a breakout season this year, but Mitchell has a flat swing that can get the barrel on the ball. He doesn’t have much power, but the Gators could do a lot worse when looking for a backup outfielder.
OF Cody Fulton, Fr., 5-11, 180 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Davie, Fla. (Hialeah HS)- 2012: n/a. Fulton was a late addition to the recruiting class and brings some experience in the outfield, a position the Gators don’t have much depth. He probably won’t be an immediate impact player, but he did show flashes in scrimmages. In the final preseason start for Jonathon Crawford, Fulton had two doubles off the future first-round pick.
OF Raph Andrades, Fr., 6-0, 190 lbs., Bats R/Throws R, Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln HS)- 2012: n/a. As you can expect, Andrades is behind. He spent the entire fall with the Florida football team while earning playing time as a wide receiver. He only caught two passes for five yards as a freshman.
The issue for Andrades is the time away from the baseball field. Not seeing live pitching since the end of his senior season at Lincoln High School makes it tough to step in and face SEC pitching. Andrades has shown flashes during the spring because of his speed and athleticism. He’s a good defensive outfielder. He certainly has the talent to play college baseball. The issue comes in whether he’ll be able to do it while splitting time between baseball and football.
The Weekend Rotation (with 2012 statistics):
Friday- RHP Jonathon Crawford, Jr., 6-2, 205 lbs., Okeechobee, Fla. (Okeechobee HS)- 2012: 6-2, 3.13 ERA, 77.2 innings pitched, 24 walks, 73 strikeouts, .260 batting average against. He has all the preseason accolades this year. Crawford threw 3.2 innings as a freshman before putting together a strong offseason going into the start of the 2012 season. There was just one issue — there wasn’t a clear spot in the rotation. With Brian Johnson, Hudson Randall and Karsten Whitson all returning to the rotation, Crawford seemed likely to be a midweek starter and see some relief innings.
That’s when adversity hit the rotation. Whitson was pulled during his second start and missed most of the season. By the time he was healthy, Crawford was pitching at an All-American level. The Gators wouldn’t have made it to Omaha without Crawford’s dominance last season. He was flexible and able to jump on the mound when needed, highlighting it with his no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman in the Gainesville Regional.
It all happened because of a simple change O’Sullivan made after Crawford’s freshman year. He moved the right-hander’s arm slot down, helping him to throw more consistent strikes.
The junior now has an arsenal that scouts drool over. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, even touching 98 mph as a sophomore. His slider is as good as they come. He came to Gainesville throwing a curveball, but O’Sullivan also changed that to a slider. It’s one of the best sliders in college baseball.
The question is his changeup. He didn’t always need it last season — throwing it just once in his no-hitter — but the pitch has improved since coming to campus. Crawford will need it to continue getting better if he wants to start in professional baseball. If he can’t, one scout compared him to Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, with a dominant fastball and a knockout slider. Either way, he has a bright future at the next level.
Saturday- RHP Tucker Simpson, Fr., 6-6, 220 lbs., Oxford, Ala. (Oxford HS)- 2012: n/a. Simpson was originally committed to Georgia Tech but switched late in the process to Florida because he wanted to be in a more rural area than Atlanta. The switch has been a big plus for Florida. Physically, he’s big enough to be an imposing force on the mound. Most physically impressive players come to college raw, but Simpson is actually a polished pitcher.
He has been successful through the fall and spring because he can throw four pitches for strikes. His fastball is in the low 90s, and his big curveball can be thrown for a strike or bounced on the plate. His sharp slider can also get swings and misses. It’s an 11-to-5 curveball that misses bats.
His changeup has advanced feel for a freshman. He has gotten a few hitters that take the pitch for a third strike because it catches them so off guard. It has depth and can be swung over and missed.
Throwing three pitches for strikes is the best way to make an immediate impact at Florida, and Simpson is in a position to do that on Saturday.
Sunday- RHP Justin Shafer, So., 6-2, 195 lbs., Lake Wales, Fla. (Lake Wales HS)- 2012: 0-0, 4.50 ERA, six innings, one walk, seven strikeouts, .333 batting average against. Shafer started to see innings at the beginning of the 2012 season, but when it became obvious the Gators would need his bat in the lineup, the innings on the mound decreased. The reason was simply the number of arms the Gators already had on the team.
This season, that will change. Shafer was one of the team’s better pitchers in the fall and throws three pitches for strikes. First recruited as a pitcher, Shafer will see increased time on the mound this year.
His best off-speed pitch is his slider. It has sharp, late break to it and will be the one that he gets strikeouts with. His changeup is average at worst and will work well as a third pitch.
The best comparison I’ve heard is Hudson Randall. He doesn’t have as many pitches as Randall, but Shafer sits in the upper 80s, works fast and throws plenty of strikes. He makes pitching look easy with the weak contact he creates.
Wildcard: RHP Karsten Whitson, Jr., 6-4, 215 lbs., Chipley, Fla. (Chipley HS)- 2012: 4-0, 3.51 ERA, 33.1 innings pitched, 18 walks, 20 strikeouts, .285 batting average against. The former No. 9 overall pick in the MLB Draft has become the forgotten man. After coming to Gainesville and being expected to pitch at the top of the rotation from day one, Whitson had a strong freshman season but followed it up with an injury-plagued sophomore year.
Now eligible for the draft, Whitson is hoping to put together a healthy season. His arm strength was built back up in the fall, and he pitched in the mid-90s like he did as a freshman. The fastball command was shaky at times, but the biggest thing was getting innings and facing hitters. As the fall went on, Whitson’s command improved.
News broke on Wednesday that Whitson will be shut down indefinitely with shoulder fatigue. It’s not a great start to the season that was supposed to redeem his value and show that he could put a full season together on the mound.
It’ll be a waiting game with Whitson this season, if he does make it back to the mound in 2013.
The Bullpen (alphabetically, with 2012 statistics):
There’s a lot to replace here. On paper, it may only look like three important relievers, but Greg Larson (6-0, 1.33), Austin Maddox (3-3, 2.44) and Steven Rodriguez (3-2, 2.18) were an integral part of Florida’s success over the last three years. They filled different roles but any of the three were trusted in big moments to get the Gators out of a jam.
If there were any doubts about Rodriguez, he was the first member of the 2012 MLB Draft to reach the big leagues and pitched down the stretch for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a race for a playoff spot.
These three were the calming effects on the team. Even with dominant starters like Brian Johnson and Hudson Randall, if there was ever a jam created by a starter or a middle reliever, these three were the ones who came in and put out the fire.
Now they’re all gone.
It’s a rebuilding process with the entire team this season, but that’s no more evident than in the back of the bullpen. And there’s a good chance it will be very noticeable at times this season. The Gators have the talent to put together a solid bullpen, but without much experience, it’s hard to expect this group to be as good as the 2012 bullpen.
RHP Jason Carmichael, Fr., 6-2, 160 lbs., Cape Coral, Fla. (Mariner HS)- 2012: n/a. The skinniest guy on the team, Carmichael has a lot of upside. He should add a few ticks of velocity in the next few years as he adds weight through the strength program. Added weight will make Carmichael a much better pitcher. His fastball has enough velocity to be an effective reliever this year if Florida needs him. His curveball is sharp and has fooled some of the better hitters on the roster in the offseason.
LHP Parker Danciu, Fr., 6-3, 210 lbs., Delray Beach, Fla. (West Boca HS)- 2012: n/a. Another tall freshman pitcher, Danciu could serve as an effective reliever this season. His long arms create a difficult situation for left-handed hitters. He won’t light up the radar gun, but Danciu has an advanced feel for pitching and knows how to locate. He has a big curveball that he uses to run away from left-handed hitters.
LHP Daniel Gibson, Jr., 6-3, 220 lbs., Lutz, Fla. (Jesuit HS)- 2012: 1-1, 2.96 ERA, 24.1 innings pitched, 11 walks, 17 strikeouts, .250 batting average against. Gibson started 2012 seeing plenty of innings out of the bullpen, but as conference play began and continued, the innings shrank. Gibson has a great arm that can sit low-to-mid 90s out of the bullpen.
When he’s locating, Gibson can be scary. He picked up his first career save when the Gators swept Miami last season in Coral Gables and didn’t give up a run through his first 15.2 innings on the mound. He has to be a trusted arm this season for the Gators to replace all that is lost from the back end of the bullpen. His 93-95 mph fastball will earn him a spot in the top five rounds of the MLB Draft this year.
RHP Eric Hanhold, Fr., 6-5, 195 lbs., Palm Harbor, Fla. (East Lake HS)- 2012: n/a. Another freshman that has drawn rave reviews. Hanhold experienced a big jump during his senior season of high school. He mostly pitched in the upper 80s as a junior before making a jump up to 90-92 mph during his senior season.
Hanhold is the perfect design of a projectable pitcher. He is tall and lanky but already throws hard. Once his frame fills out, his velocity should take another tick up. As many impressive reviews as this freshman class has drawn, Hanhold was the only pitcher that made it to campus after being selected in the MLB Draft.
RHP Ryan Harris, So., 6-2, 200 lbs., Jupiter, Fla. (Jupiter HS)- 2012: 2-0, 3.38 ERA, 16 innings pitched, four walks, 12 strikeouts, .203 batting average against. Harris pitched in blowout games in 2012, but whenever he got on the mound, he was impressive. He carried that momentum into summer ball in the Northwoods League, throwing 42.2 innings while totaling 49 strikeouts and 10 walks with a 1.48 ERA.
Talent isn’t a question here. Harris throws a heavy fastball that produces ground balls, but it also sits in the low-to-mid 90s. He even touched 95 mph a few times at scout day in the fall.
With all the signs leaning towards a breakout season, Harris wasn’t as sharp during the fall. His control struggled at times, and he was falling behind and walking too many hitters. That changed this spring. He was attacking hitters and trusting his pitches more than in the fall.
RHP Keenan Kish, Jr., 6-4, 205 lbs., Worcester, Pa. (Germantown Academy)- 2012: 0-0, 1.98 ERA, 27.1 innings pitched, five walks, 28 strikeouts, .198 batting average against. Kish recorded the most important out in 2012 — the one that sent the Gators to Omaha for their third straight appearance in the College World Series.
His statistics from 2012 are impressive. Kish was mostly used in mop up duty late in blowout games to keep the rest of the pitching staff fresh. As he continued to handle those situations well, the coaches started to trust him more and more. Kish has the talent to have a strong junior season. He gets enough movement on his pitches that produce a high number of ground balls. He’ll be an important piece of the Florida bullpen but has enough versatility to step into the starting rotation if needed.
RHP Johnny Magliozzi, So., 5-10, 180 lbs., East Milton, Mass. (Dexter School)- 2012: 4-3, 5.03 ERA, 34 innings pitched, five walks, 21 strikeouts, .319 batting average against. Magliozzi has been much better in preseason practices during his sophomore year. The difference is in his curveball. He came to Gainesville with a sloppy curveball that was loopy and tough to locate. This year, it is a much tighter pitch with a sharper break. It’s also much easier to locate.
He has always had a plus changeup. The arm action stays the same as his fastball, but the changeup has a lot of depth to it. He has an effective three-pitch mix that will give him a chance to break out during his sophomore year. Magliozzi will get the first shot to be the Florida closer.
LHP Bobby Poyner, So., 6-0, 200 lbs., Wellington, Fla. (Palm Beach Central HS)-2012: 1-1, 3.18 ERA, 22.2 innings pitched, four walks, 16 strikeouts, .289 batting average against. Poyner came to campus as a freshman that was fresh off Tommy John surgery. For that reason, I didn't expect him to have a big impact. He came in and showcased advanced command of his pitches that earned him a spot on the mound right away.
RHP Aaron Rhodes, RFr., 5-11, 190 lbs. Venice, Fla. (Venice HS)- 2012: n/a — redshirt. There are still plenty of unknowns about Rhodes. He was one of the team’s best pitchers during the fall before the 2012 season, but he missed the start of the season with an injury and ended up redshirting.
Rhodes had an inconsistent fall this year and will be used as a middle reliever this season. When he’s on, his off-speed pitches can help him get ground balls and be effective. When he starts to elevate his pitches in the strike zone, it doesn’t work out as well.
The coaches recently lowered his arm slot. It isn’t sidearm, but it’s about as close as it can get without being it. In his first outing with the new arm slot, Rhodes gave up one hit in four innings. He could give the Gators a low-angle right-hander out of the bullpen that they haven’t had in years.
LHP Corey Stump, So., 6-5, 210 lbs., Lakeland, Fla. (Lakeland Christian HS)- 2012: 0-0, 2.25 ERA, four innings pitched, two walks, zero strikeouts, .214 batting average against. The Florida coaches toyed with Stump’s delivery in the offseason to create as much deception as possible. They lowered his arm angle to a low three-quarters position that makes him a nightmare for left-handed hitters. It’s actually the same arm angle he used in high school.
I asked O’Sullivan about the new arm slot in the fall, and the best comparison he could come up with was Chicago White Sox left-hander and 17-game winner Chris Sale. Stump has heard that comparison throughout his life since they are both from the same hometown and have similar builds.
Either way, Stump’s arm slot will be tough on left-handers, especially for those that haven’t faced him. And with him throwing just four innings in 2012, that’ll be most of the teams he takes the mound against. Bringing Stump in to face a left-handed hitter late in the game would be a tough matchup for the opposition.
RHP Mike Vinson, Fr., 6-4, 205 lbs., Miami, Fla. (Christopher Columbus HS)- 2012: n/a. He hasn’t been in the headlines as much as some of the other freshmen, but Vinson has put together a strong spring. He was been 88-92 mph with his fastball and has thrown his name into the mix as a reliever this season.
LHP Danny Young, Fr., 6-2, 185 lbs., Boca Raton, Fla. (Saint Andrew’s School)- 2012: n/a. This was the surprise freshman to me this offseason. Everyone knew Hanhold and Simpson would come in and make an impression, but Young came out of a small high school and got hitters out during the fall and spring. He was upper 80s most of the time with his fastball, but his command is advanced for a freshman.
There’s some deception in his delivery that makes the ball difficult to pick up out of his hand. He also has tightened up his breaking ball and made it a much better pitch since coming to campus in the summer. He could be a left-handed reliever early this season.