Legends On Deck

Florida College Baseball Preview 2021

After just a few weeks, the 2020 College Baseball season came to a screeching halt.  It should be no surprise that as a new season is upon us, the powerhouse schools in the state of Florida have high expectations.  The Big 3 (Florida, Florida State and Miami) all appear in multiple preseason Top 25 rankings.  The Gators are the unanimous #1 ranked team in the country.  UCF also holds a Top 25 spot in some of the rankings.  Here’s a look at several polls:

Preseason Rankings

Baseball America

#1 Florida

#9 Florida State

#11 Miami

#24 UCF

D1 Baseball 

#1 Florida

#21 Miami

#24  Florida State

NCBWA Poll

#1 Florida

#10 Miami

#16 Florida State

#28 UCF

(Florida Atlantic and Stetson received votes)

Florida (SEC)

In the preseason rankings, the Gators are the consensus #1 overall team. Sophomore Center Fielder Jud Fabian is a First Team All-American, an explosive player at the top of the order.  Pitcher Tommy Mace (Third Team All-American) heads a strong rotation, which also includes Jack Leftwich.  The new Florida Ballpark sets to open this season, giving the Gators one of the premiere facilities in College Baseball.  Kevin O’Sullivan‘s team made four consecutive College World Series appearances (2015-2018), winning the National Championship in 2017.  Can the Gators bring a national title back to Gainesville again in 2021?

Miami (ACC)

The Hurricanes are ranked in every Top 25 poll, but no one seems to agree on where they sit in the rankings.  Led by the bats of two first team All-Americans, Adrian Del Castillio (Catchers) and Alex Toral (First Base).  Castillo has been talked about as being the best overall college hitter in the country.  USC transfer RHP/1B Ben Wanger is a second team All-American.  The Hurricanes were even ranked as high as #6 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  The Canes are favored to win the ACC Coastal Division and are strongly positioned to make a in the tournament.  You might find them in Omaha this Summer.

Florida State (SEC)

In 2019, the Seminoles helped elevate legendary coach Mike Martin all the way to Omaha.  As his son, Mike Martin Jr., will coach his first full season in 2021 with a solid squad.  Third team All-American, Outfielder Robby Martin, is considered one of the best pure hitters in College Baseball.  He will be complemented by the power of fellow Outfielder Elijah Cabell.  Pitcher, Coner Grady, sits at the top of a strong Seminoles rotation.  Additionally, the Noles scored the nation’s top recruit in RHP Carson Montgomery (Windermere HS).  FSU rounds out the Power 3 in Florida, all of which are fully capable of earning a trip to Omaha in June.

UCF (AAC)

Prior to the shutdown, the Knights got out to a hot, 15-2 start in 2020.  They come back in 2021 as a top contender in the American Athletic Conference.  UCF’s strength is in their starting rotation:  Colton Gordon, Hunter Patteson and Kenny Serwa.  Still, UCF has strong competition in the AAC with East Carolina and Houston.  It is no secret, mid-major programs have seen plenty of success in recent years.  Ask the 2016 National Champions, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

Florida Programs on the Rise

While the Gators, Canes, Noles and Knights all appear in the national polls, they are not the only programs of interest in the state of Florida in 2021.  In the Atlantic Sun Conference, the always dangerous Stetson Hatters have produced some top-tier pitchers over the years (Jacob DeGrom and Cory Kluber).  Look to see what Daniel Peret and Chase Costello do this season.  The Hatters hosted their first Regional in 2018.

Florida Gulf Coast will give them serious competition for the Atlantic Sun Championship this season.  Mason Studstill is a standout pitcher at FGCU.  Down in Boca, Florida Atlantic will likely contend for the Conference USA title.  They have been a perennial contenders for several seasons.

The state of Florida remains the epicenter of baseball recruiting.  Take a look at the rosters of any of these teams and you will struggle to find too many out of state players.  Unlike Florida,  most states do not have this luxury of top-tier, homegrown talent.  In other words, any conversation about the future of College Baseball deserves serious discussion of the Sunshine State.

As most of America experiences winter storms this week, it looks like Florida will be on of the only places with comfortable baseball weather to open the season.  It’s been a long wait, but baseball season is underway!

Opening Weekend Match-ups

  • Miami at Florida
  • North Florida at Florida State
  • FAU at UCF
  • Florida A&M at Stetson
  • FGCU at South Florida

**Photo from sportscasting.com**

Brian Koss
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