The Florida baseball team lost two key infielders from last year’s team that made it to the College World Series.
There was shortstop Richie Martin — who was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics — and third baseman Josh Tobias, who graduated and was taken in the 10th round of the draft by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The two combined to hit .321, with 159 hits, nine home runs, 82 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. Tobias’ defense at third base was also reliable, with just one error in 140 chances — good enough for a .993 fielding percentage.
But while those two are gone, coach Kevin O’Sullivan and Florida still have plenty of talent in the infield. Here’s a look at some key players in the Gators’ infield before the season begins on Feb. 19 against Florida Gulf Coast.
JJ Schwarz, sophomore, catcher
2015: .332 average, 18 home runs, 73 RBIs
Arguably one of the best hitters in the country, Schwarz exploded onto the scene last year as a freshman, leading UF in home runs and RBIs. He also became the first player in program history to hit four home runs in a game when he accomplished the feat against Stetson.
The Palm Beach Gardens native was on almost every All-Freshman Team list, and was named the Southeastern Conference Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Schwarz won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year, and opposing teams will be careful pitching to him.
Mike Rivera, sophomore, catcher
2015: .271 average, three home runs, 48 RBIs
One can say that Rivera was as valuable to the team as Schwarz was last season. While he didn’t put up the same offensive numbers, he excelled when tasked with handling a top-tier pitching staff.
Rivera picked up second team All-SEC honors and started 41 games at catcher. Expect more of the same this season from Rivera with O’Sullivan putting more trust in him behind the plate.
Peter Alonso, junior, first baseman
2015: .301 average, five home runs, 32 RBIs
Alonso missed the first 30 games for the Gators last season, but when he came back, he was reliable at the plate and in the field.
Alonso started 39 games, reaching base in Florida’s last 20, while hitting .340 in the postseason with 15 RBIs. He also committed just one error, tallying a .997 fielding percentage.
Having a healthy Alonso for a full season will pay dividends for the Gators.
Dalton Guthrie, sophomore, second baseman
2015: .287 average, two home runs, 26 RBIs
Another player whose accomplishments were dwarfed by others around him, Guthrie started 69 games last season and finished fourth on the team with 81 hits. He was named a second-team freshman All-American by Baseball America and joined Schwarz and Rivera on the SEC All-Freshman team.
The question for Guthrie remains whether he will continue to play second base or if O’Sullivan will move him to fill the void left by Martin.
Jonathan India, freshman, middle infielder
2015 (High School): .405 average, 23 RBIs, 25 stolen bases
If O’Sullivan decides to move Guthrie to shortstop, India will be the man to take his place at second base.
He was drafted in the 26th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, but held off turning pro to join the Gators. The freshman was one of the top-rated high school players last year — No. 82 in the country and No. 15 in the state of Florida according to Baseball America.
The No. 1 middle infield prospect by Perfect Game, India brings speed to the table, going 25-of-27 on stolen base attempts last year.
India might find himself in the starting lineup when the season begins.
Follow Luis Torres on Twitter @LFTorresIII