2012 draft: Zunino, Tucker and Fontana powering top-ranked Gators

Preston Tucker's two-run homer Saturday powers Florida over Vanderbilt. (Steve Johnson/Gator Bait)

With a possible six first-round picks in the 2012 draft, the Florida Gators have pounded their opponents this season, outscoring them 148-54 through their first 18 games, and are the number-one ranked team in the country.

On the offensive side, catcher Mike Zunino, widely considered a top-five pick, has done nothing but impress with his bat. Through his first 18 games, he is 27-for-64 (.422) with six doubles, seven home runs, 24 RBI and three stolen bases. He has also drawn 11 walks for a slash line of .507/.844/1.351. He has an RBI in 12 of 18 games, and has three multi-home run games on the season. The 2011 SEC Player of the Year after hitting .371 with 19 home runs, 67 RBI and a .422 OBP, Zunino is eyeing a bigger prize this season, the Golden Spikes award, handed out to the most outstanding amateur in the nation. He is also considered the best defensive catcher in the draft and a clubhouse leader.

Senior outfielder, Preston Tucker, is emerging as a potential late-first-round selection as his power may be too enticing to pass on. The 6’-0”, 220-pound left-hander is the Gators all-time leader in RBI, and over his four-year career, is hitting .332 with 48 home runs and 229 RBI over 217 games. On the season, he is hitting .320 with three doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 21 RBI through his first 19 games. He also shows a great approach at the plate, drawing 98 walks (.404 OBP) to only 88 strikeouts over his career, including this season. He has been heating up lately, going 5-for-12 (.417) with two triples, two home runs and eight RBI over his last three games.

Nolan Fontana, one of the top second baseman in the draft, has been showing five-tool potential that could land him in the first round if his play continues. Through his first 19 games, he is 23-for-66 (.348) with three doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI and five stolen bases. He has also added a team-high 15 walks for a slash line of .469/.576/1.045, extremely impressive for a middle infielder. The 5’-11”, 190-pound junior has been scorching of late, as well, going 8-for-21 (.381) with 10 walks, seven RBI and three stolen bases over his last seven games.  He also shines on the defensive side of the ball, with soft hands, a strong, accurate arm and good range to remain at the position at the next level. With the draft thin on pure second basemen, Fontana brings the glove, and bat, that many teams will covet.

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