O'Sullivan pleased despite departures
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.
It’s one of the inherent dangers that you have to deal with as a college baseball coach. If your juniors are good enough, they won’t see their senior seasons. If you’re recruiting class is good enough, the draft will kill you.
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan saw both things happen this summer.
“I don’t think it could have gone any worse,” O’Sullivan said. “But I feel good about the guys we have.”
In addition to having seven juniors leave the program to sign professional contracts, Florida lost six players who had signed out of high school to pro ball.
In a program where you have a 27-man roster, that’s almost half of it wiped out.
But O’Sullivan has a bounce to his step because of what he has coming back and what he has coming in. Florida starts fall drills Sept. 26 with a goal of trying to figure out who will fill what roles.
“It was just one of those years,” O’Sullivan said. “We lost a lot outgoing and a lot incoming. That’s what you want to avoid. You don’t want to get hit on both ends.
“But we still have plenty. I’m excited about this team.”
Coming off three straight trips to the College World Series, O’Sullivan will have to rebuild, but he has some major anchors, including starting pitchers Karsten Whitson and Jonathon Crawford. He hopes that pitchers such as Corey Stump, Ryan Harris, Bobby Poyner and Daniel Gibson will take major leaps in their performances after solid summers in leagues around the country.
And he returns first baseman Vickash Ramjit, second baseman Casey Turgeon, third baseman Josh Tobias and outfielders Tyler Thompson and Justin Shafer to the every-day lineup. Zack Powers, who missed last year with an injury, and Cody Dent will also be factors.
And even though the freshman class was hit hard, there is plenty of talent coming to Gainesville.
Kevin Stypulkowski, the Class 5A-4A-3A player of the year in the state, will battle Taylor Gushue for the catcher’s job. Freshman Richie Martin is already being penciled in to replace Nolan Fontana at shortstop. Christian Dicks is a freshman who can play infield or outfield, and the Gators signed New York prospect Harrison Bader late after so many players decided to sign.
“The mound is really going to be interesting,” O’Sullivan said. “We are bringing in six guys who are exactly what you want to get.”
Among them are Eric Hanhold, the last pick in the Major League draft, who O’Sullivan said could be a first-round pick by the time he’s done at Florida, and Miami-Dade player of the year Mike Vinson.
“I’m really excited about our pitching,” O’Sullivan said. “Our young kids are going to have to grow up in a hurry.”