The Gators closed out fall baseball practice on Friday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. They continued…
Scrimmage report: 11/15
Jason Carmichael and Tucker Simpson again stole the show of the scrimmage. The two freshmen right-handers have been good all fall and were again on Thursday. The duo combined to pitch six innings and gave up just one run. It was all about the curveball for Carmichael. He threw it in all counts and to all locations — for a strike or to get hitters to swing over it in the dirt. His changeup will be a solid third pitch, especially when the longer he gets to work with head coach Kevin O'Sullivan on the pitch. The fastball command is what has improved since the start of the fall. Carmichael still struggled with walks at times during the three-inning outing, but he stayed out of the middle of the plate. He moved the fastball to both corners of the plate, and in the low 90s, it's tough to square up when he locates it. He even went through some of Florida's best hitters with ease. He struck out Justin Shafer by throwing the curveball for a strike on the first pitch then painting the outside corner with a fastball looking. The third pitch was a curveball on the dirt that was swung over for the third strike. After Casey Turgeon swung over a curveball on the first pitch of his at-bat, Turgeon weakly tapped a changeup to first base. Simpson has pitched in the low 90s all fall and throws the curveball and changeup for strikes. It's rare that both freshmen have proven capable of doing that this fall. Simpson's curveball has more straight downward break on it compared to the slurvy action of Carmichael's. Simpson is throwing more changeups this fall to work on it and get the pitch ready for game action in the spring. Simpson has experienced a lot of success up in the strike zone this fall. He's not afraid to throw his fastball up and out of the zone, where if the hitter swings at it, he rarely makes solid contact. His 12-6 curveball also makes this a good decision. The fastball up in the zone and his curveball both look similar out of his hand, so the hitter isn't sure what is coming. The late swings on high fastballs have produced many infield fly balls this fall, including three in three innings of work on Thursday. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Harris has walked his fair share this fall, but he has the ability to get out of it based on how good his arm is. He has consistently been in the mid-90s this fall and used it on the inner half of the plate to left-handers on Thursday. He allowed one run in two innings of work. The most important thing he will bring to the back of the bullpen is his ability to miss bats and get strikeouts. He'll be a trusted arm in the late inning and one of the guys that will be counted on with the task of replacing what Greg Larson, Austin Maddox and Steven Rodriguez gave Florida the last few years. Sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes was the final pitcher to throw on Thursday. He struggled the most. With two outs in the final inning, Rhodes gave up a towering homerun to his roommate, Freshman All-American second baseman Casey Turgeon. Turgeon actually hit with a wood bat like some of the players have been doing on random days, and he still got the ball out with ease. Rhodes gave up three runs in his first inning of work, but that part actually wasn't as bad as it sounds. He's a sinker baller that depends on getting sink and ground balls. Some of the hits he gave up were weakly hit ground balls that just found their way through the infield. It wouldn't be a scrimmage report without raving about freshman shortstop Richie Martin. He continues to do it all. He hits the ball hard to all fields and proved it yet again on Thursday. He's also patient at the plate and has worked a good number of walks this fall. Shafer will be fun to watch hit during the spring. He smoked two balls up the middle on Thursday and continues to hit the ball hard. He'll have a better year this spring simply because he's more comfortable. He looks much more relaxed and confident in his ability while playing the outfield. One of his singles came with a runner on third and Martin on first. On the single up the middle, Martin went to third and the throw from center field did, too. Shafer didn't slow down as he rounded first base and went into second without a throw. It's heady plays like this that happen when he's more relaxed on the field. Keep in mind last year was his first season playing baseball only, as he also had some Division 1 offers to play quarterback, so there's still room for him to grow on the diamond. If I'm making a breakout pick of a player that isn't a freshman for the spring for the Florida offense, I'll take Josh Tobias. I think fans will see his true skillset this season without any restrictions on his ability to run. He's also stronger this season and has been putting on shows during batting practice. After smoking a single to lead off an inning, Tobias stole second base and third base on back-to-back pitches. The question with Tobias becomes where he will play. He has been all over the field this fall. He started out playing at third base and has also seen time at second base, shortstop and in the outfield. His versatility will give the Florida coaches some flexibility when it comes to filling out the lineup card. Taylor Gushue had an RBI single off Rhodes, and the bat has improved since his slump that happened during the middle of last season. The biggest improvement for him has come behind the plate. His defense was bad whenever he filled in for Mike Zunino last season. It's easy to see the improvement this year. The Florida coaches worked with Gushue during the offseason to clean up his throwing mechanics behind the plate. Last year, his mechanics became sloppy and limited the velocity on his throws. His arm strength is showing this year, and he threw out both attempted base stealers during the scrimmage.
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