FOUR BITS: Andrades, Nixon, Saunders, baseball

1 » Preseason-ranked No. 13/17 Florida Gators baseball opened the 2013 season on Friday with its very first practice of the new campaign. For those unaware that he would be doing so, freshman wide receiver Raphael Andrades is practicing with the team as an outfielder and is on the official roster for this season. At 6’0 and 190 lbs., Andrades is an accomplished baseball player who was actually selected in the 36th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. After being drafted by the Royals, Andrades took a trip out to Kansas City to take batting practice with the team and even hit a home run while doing so. The Royals were unable to sign him to a deal, which was no surprise whatsoever, but the Gators told Andrades during his recruitment that a roster spot on the baseball team was available if he felt like he could juggle both sports. He will wear No. 18 for the team and is the first student-athlete to participate in both sports since wide receiver/outfielder Riley Cooper (2007-09).

2 » While running back Mike Gillislee is turning heads during practices for the 2013 Senior Bowl, it appears as if offensive tackle Xavier Nixon is diverting eyes away from his play. According to the National Football Post‘s Russ Lande, Nixon is one of eight players that has struggled the most over the last few days.

From the first practice it was clear that Nixon was over-matched athletically playing offensive tackle. He could not kick-slide out in time to protect the corner vs speed rushers and lacked the feet and agility to re-direct and adjust to fast pass rush moves back inside. His lack of quickness also hindered his ability to get into good run blocking position and often led to him grabbing and holding his man. Nixon slid inside and played some guard this week and was more effective there, but his struggles to bend knees and block with leverage hindered him there too. Nixon is not going to be a high draft pick, but will likely be selected late because of his size, long arms and experience starting three plus seasons at Florida.

Measurements are also in for both players from day one of Senior Bowl practices:
- Gillislee: 5’11 1/4″, 207 lbs., 8.75 in. hands, 30.75 in. arms, 74.25 in. wingspan
- Nixon: 6’5 1/2″, 311 lbs., 10.25 in. hands, 33.75 in. arms, 80.75 in. wingspan

The 2013 Senior Bowl will be played on Saturday at 4 p.m. and air live on NFL Network.

3 » Former Florida safety De’Ante Saunders has decided to transfer to Tennessee State. According to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Chris Hays, Saunders is already enrolled at TSU. He is the second UF player to move on to the program in the last 12 months as tight end A.C. Leonard chose to transfer before the season. As Tennessee State is an FCS school, Saunders (like Leonard was) is able to play immediately and does not have to sit out the NCAA-mandated redshirt season he would’ve had to if he transferred to another FBS school. Leonard had great success at TSU in 2012, leading the team in receiving with 733 yards and six touchdowns in just 10 games; he has one year of eligibility remaining while Saunders has two more seasons of college football left.

4 » Head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan met with the media on Friday to take an early look at the Gators baseball team heading into the season. Though Florida will once again have solid pitching and defense, the offense is undergoing a makeover with so many home run hitters no longer with the program. “I do feel good about our offense. It’s just there’s going to be some ups and downs,” he said. “There’s going to be a learning curve, but we certainly have the personnel to be OK. Our offense is going to be different this year. … Our personnel is different. It is what it is. It certainly can be as successful, we’re just going to have to do it a different way.”

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TWO BITS: Draftees staying? Fagan awarded.

1 » Of Florida Gators baseball’s four high school signees drafted in the first four rounds of the 2011 MLB Draft, at least two are expected to enroll in school and delay their professional debut three more years. One of them, right-handed pitcher Kyle Smith told the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter that college is most definitely in his future. “It’s a long shot I sign,” Smith told Porter. “I’m very committed to the University of Florida.” Smith was selected by the Kansas City Royls with the No. 126 overall pick in the fourth round. Porter previously noted that Smith’s advisor, who also works with RHP Michael Kelly (the No. 48 overall pick in the second round by the San Diego Padres), believes both players will be wearing orange and blue next year. “I honestly think [Kelly] fell too far to get a deal done,” he said. “I know he has a very, very strong college commitment.”

2 » Only a freshman, third baseman Kasey Fagan had a strong year for Gators softball, starting all 68 games she played and accounting for 41 hits, 43 runs, 22 RBI, 30 walks and 16 stolen bases. Her sister, shortstop/catcher Sami Fagan has committed to and will join Florida next season and hopes to have just as much early success. With the older Fagan capturing the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year award for the state of Florida twice (and the national award just last year), her younger sister has plenty to live up to…and did just that Thursday when she was honored with the 2011 version of the state award. According to The Gainesville Sun, Sami hit .693 last season, has a .629 mark for her high school career and notched a state-record 63-game hitting streak over the course of her sophomore and junior years.

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Record 11 Gators selected in 2011 MLB Draft

A school record 11 current members of the Florida Gators baseball team were selected by professional organizations on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the second and third days of the 50-round 2011 MLB Draft.

Junior LHP Nick Maronde – Round 4, Pick 104 – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani – Round 6, Pick 199 – Toronto Blue Jays
Junior LHP Alex Panteliodis – Round 9, Pick 282 – New York Mets
Junior RHP Tommy Toledo – Round 11, Pick 341 – Milwaukee Brewers
Senior 2B (SS) Josh Adams – Round 13, Pick 403 – Florida Marlins
Junior OF (1B) Preston Tucker – Round 16, Pick 498 – Colorado Rockies
Junior C Ben McMahan – Round 23, Pick 701 – Milwaukee Brewers
Senior RHP Matt Campbell – Round 24, Pick 751 – Philadelphia Phillies
Junior RHP Greg Larson – Round 29, Pick 885 – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Senior OF Bryson Smith – Round 34, Pick 1,045 – Cincinnati Reds
Junior OF Tyler Thompson – Round 46, Pick 1,387 – Washington Nationals

The vast majority – if not all – of the underclassmen picked in the draft are expected to return to school to both graduate and improve their standing for 2012.

Additionally, four of Florida’s 2011 high school signees were picked in the first four rounds of the event including two in the first day, which consisted of picks No. 1-60.

RHP Michael Kelly – Round 2, Pick 48 – San Diego Padres
RHP Hudson Boyd – Round 2, Pick 55 – Minnesota Twins
1B Daniel Vogelbach – Round 3, Pick 68 – Chicago Cubs
RHP Kyle Smith – Round 4, Pick 126 – Kansas City Royals

The advisor for Kelly and Smith, Jason Wood of Arland Sports, told the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter that he expects both players to turn down the large signing bonus they would get for agreeing to forego their college careers and instead enroll at Florida. “I honestly think [Kelly] fell too far to get a deal done,” Wood said. “I know he has a very, very strong college commitment. It’s a compliment to go as high as he did. The Padres are a great organization, and he’s honored to be drafted.”

More Gators are expected to be picked in the draft, which runs for 50 total rounds and concludes on Wednesday.

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Nine Gators selected on day two of MLB Draft

Nine current members of the Florida Gators baseball team were selected by professional organizations Tuesday on the second day of the 2011 MLB Draft.

Junior LHP Nick Mardone – Round 4, Pick 104 – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani – Round 6, Pick 199 – Toronto Blue Jays
Junior LHP Alex Panteliodis – Round 9, Pick 282 – New York Mets
Junior RHP Tommy Toledo – Round 11, Pick 341 – Milwaukee Brewers
Senior 2B (SS) Josh Adams – Round 13, Pick 403 – Florida Marlins
Junior OF (1B) Preston Tucker – Round 16, Pick 498 – Colorado Rockies
Junior C Ben McMahan – Round 23, Pick 701 – Milwaukee Brewers
Senior RHP Matt Campbell – Round 24, Pick 751 – Philadelphia Phillies
Junior RHP Greg Larson – Round 29, Pick 885 – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Additionally, four of Florida’s 2011 high school signees were picked in the first four rounds of the event including two in the first day, which consisted of picks No. 1-60.

RHP Michael Kelly – Round 2, Pick 48 – San Diego Padres
RHP Hudson Boyd – Round 2, Pick 55 – Minnesota Twins
1B Daniel Vogelbach – Round 3, Pick 68 – Chicago Cubs
RHP Kyle Smith – Round 4, Pick 126 – Kansas City Royals

The advisor for Kelly and Smith, Jason Wood of Arland Sports, told the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter that he expects both players to turn down the large signing bonus they would get for agreeing to forego their college careers and instead enroll at Florida. “I honestly think [Kelly] fell too far to get a deal done,” Wood said. “I know he has a very, very strong college commitment. It’s a compliment to go as high as he did. The Padres are a great organization, and he’s honored to be drafted.”

More Gators are expected to be picked in the draft, which runs for 50 total rounds and concludes on Wednesday.

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OF Jonathan Pigott signs with Atlanta Braves

Former Florida Gators outfielder Jonathan Pigott has signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. He is the fourth member of the 2010 team to sign with an MLB team and the only one to do so after not being selected in the 2010 MLB Draft.

Pigott has been assigned to the Gulf Coast League Braves, who play their home games at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.

A defensive-minded player, Pigott did not commit a single error in 267 chances during his four-year Florida career.

Closer Kevin Chapman (fourth round, Kansas City Royals), outfielder Matt den Dekker (fifth round, New York Mets) and catcher Hampton Tignor (36th round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) are the other former players who found professional homes this offseason.

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FOUR BITS: Chapman, Parsons, Macklin, Brown

1 » Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals, Florida Gators junior closer Kevin Chapman realized his dream and solidified his future by officially signing with the team on Monday. Posting a 1.64 ERA and 3-0 record with 11 saves in 43.2 innings last season, Chapman struck out 44 batters and only walked seven. He has been assigned to the Royals’ Class A affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League and will do his best to work his way through the minor leagues and into the majors soon.

2 » While a number of the NBA’s top free agents were deciding their futures last week, some of college basketball and high school basketball’s top players participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, OH. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla was on-site and had this to report about the two Gators who were invited:

Redshirt senior forward/center Vernon Macklin
Macklin is not a fluid athlete but is tough around the basket and gives a very good effort. He’s a big key for a Gator resurgence this season.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons
Parsons played well at the camp, showing an ability to slash to the rim and make jump shots, as well. For a right-hander, he’s a very dominant left-handed driver. I would work on that right hand the rest of the summer if I were Parsons.

An interview with Jenn Brown and update on Dwayne Schintzius…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Chapman, Parsons, Macklin, Brown

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Chapman, den Dekker selected in 2010 MLB Draft

Two Florida Gators seniors – reliever Kevin Chapman and outfielder Matt den Dekker – were selected on the second day of the 2010 MLB Draft on Tuesday.

Chapman, picked No. 119 overall by the Kansas City Royals, is a left-handed pitcher with a high-90s fastball and solid temperament. The Gators’ closer this season, he has earned 11 saves and posted a 1.28 ERA and 0.99 K/9 in 42.1 innings.

The New York Mets selected den Dekker with the No. 152 overall pick in the draft. Having already posted a .361 average with 13 home runs and 48 RBI this season, den Dekker improved 11 rounds after being pick No. 475 in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As many as five other Florida baseball players could be selected in this year’s draft, which may go as deep as 50 rounds.

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