The final round of eight of the College World Series kicks off this weekend, and while all but one of the teams will end up going home without the hardware, a few of the members of their teams will likely one day be going with a million-dollar bonus. Here’s who has some helium for the 2012 MLB draft, broken down by team. Here’s part two…
The Gators are loaded with talent, and next year will be no different. Yes, they’ll lose Preston Tucker and Alex Panteliodis, but their star-studded roster will be led by their top draft prospect for 2012, LHP Brian Johnson.
Johnson had a great season, posting a 3.66 ERA and a70:15 K:BB ratio in 15 starts before an errant Mike Zunino throw plunked him in the head and sidelined him with a concussion (see above). He has yet to make an appearance in the NCAA tournament, but is scheduled to return sometime during the CWS. Johnson had a fantastic freshman campaign as well, making 14 starts and picking up six victories. He also made an impact at the plate, hitting .405 in 84 at-bats, bashing four home runs and driving in 21 runs.
Like most of the players on the UF roster, Johnson was already drafted once, back in the 27th-round of the 2009 draft by the Dodgers. He spurned that offer to come to UF, where he has continued to grow into his 6-foot-3, 225 pound frame and develop his stuff. Johnson has been excellent at keeping his low 90s fastball down, but in the zone during his time with the Gators. He has shown a great curveball that got better as the 2011 season wore on.
After Johnson, it’s a who’s-who of talent.
There’s athletic 3B Nolan Fontana, the team’s first-ever Rawlings Gold Glove winner. Fontana was one of the Gators most consistent hitters during this past season, despite finishing sixth on the team with a .301 average. He also rapped 12 doubles, legged out five triples and slugged five home runs. He also drove in 47 runs, good for third on the squad. He also played sterling defense again, making only 10 errors in 66 games.
There’s also C/INF Austin Maddox, who exploded onto the scene as a freshman, hitting .333 with 17 home runs and 72 RBI in 2010. Maddox turned down a 37th-round offer from the Rays to attend UF, and despite suffering through a tough season (.280, 6 HR, 35 RBI) should be one of the top corner infielders available in 2012.
C Mike Zunino, the reigning SEC Hitter of the Year, should also get some love, after a season that saw him pace the Gators with a .376 average and 18 home runs. He finished second on the squad with 66 RBI. Behind the plate he was excellent, making only two errors, good for a fielding percentage of .996. He was so good in fact that he forced freshman sensation Austin Maddox off of the position. Zunino was a former 30th-round pick back in 2009.
Last but not least is this year’s ace, RHP Hudson Randall. Randall was an all-everybody freshman last year, winning eight games and posting a 3.24 ERA. This year he stepped it up a notch, winning 10 games and posting a minuscule 2.29 ERA. He is, and never will be, a big strikeout guy (only 62 K in 110 IP), but he’s also got great control (12 BB). He’s also durable as a horse, as he proved consistently this season. Pitching on Friday nights in the SEC takes a certain kind of pitcher, and Randall proved himself worthy this year.
Beyond the big five (Johnson/Fontana/Maddox/Zunino/Randall) the Gators might also have a couple of guys coming back, assuming they don’t sign, including 1B Preston Tucker (16th-round), LHP Nick Maronde (third), RHP Anthony DeSclafani (sixth), and LHP Alex Panteliodis (ninth).
Part one (Virginia) can be found here.