As they are projected to be one of the very best teams in college baseball in 2016, it's no surprise that the Florida Gators are loaded with talent. In fact, three of their star players were named to the preseason Golden Spikes watchlist on Tuesday, with pitcher A.J. Puk, outfielder Buddy Reed and catch J.J. Schwarz all making the cut.
The Golden Spikes award is given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the United States. The Gators were tied with Louisville for the highest number of players named to the 2016 watchlist.
Puk was a beast on the mound last year for the Gators. The big lefty compiled a 9-4 record with a 3.81 earned run average, while striking out a dominating 12 men per nine innings, and allowing just 36 total runs on the season.
Reed, meanwhile, was an on-base machine in 2015, hitting .305/.367/.433, piling up 86 hits and 51 runs, while successfully stealing 18 out of 26 bags. And one of the beneficiaries of Reed always being on base was Schwarz, who hit .332/.398/.629 in 2015, with 18 home runs and 73 RBI.
All three of Puk, Reed and Schwarz are vital to Florida's success, and if the Gators play at the level they are capable of in 2016, there's a good chance one of them will take home the Golden Spikes award when all is said and done, making them the first Gator to win the award since current Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was chosen as the winner in 2012.