Harrison Bader, one of the top outfielders in the country last season and a force in Florida’s lineup, exemplified the talent the Gators had in the outfield.
Bader finished the 2015 season second on the team with 17 home runs, 66 RBIs, 33 walks and a .566 slugging percentage.
He was also solid defensively, leading all of UF’s outfielders with 10 assists while not committing an error.
His hard work paid off, with the Bronxville, New York, native being selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round (100th overall pick) of the 2015 MLB Draft.
However, even with the loss of Bader, coach Kevin O’Sullivan and the Gators return one of the most dynamic center fielders in the country in Buddy Reed and a slew of others who will be counted on to produce more in 2016.
Buddy Reed, junior
The quintessential leadoff hitter, Buddy Reed had a breakout sophomore campaign.
After hitting just .244 in his first season at Florida, Reed hit .305 last year and led the team with 86 hits.
The Finksburg, Maryland, native also had a team-best 13-game hitting streak last year between March 4-27.
But Reed’s strongest contributions were defensively and on the base paths.
He was second on the team with 18 stolen bases in 26 attempts, and became the first UF player to be named to the Southeastern Conference All-Defensive team since Nolan Fontana and Mike Zunino picked up the honor back in 2012.
For a team that is ranked No. 1 in the country heading into the 2016 season, Reed will be counted on to be the catalyst on offense, while providing solid defense.
Jeremy Vasquez, sophomore
Vasquez might be entering the 2016 season in a two-way battle for the starting right-field spot with Ryan Larson.
Vasquez started 14 games in right field for the Gators and played in 42 games, after missing the first 16 games of the season with a broken hand.
The Palm City native also started 11 games at first base, but with Peter Alonso entering the season healthy, Vasquez might be staying in the outfield.
Vasquez was able to turn it on when UF made the postseason as he hit .378, and .476 (10-for-21) in the NCAA Tournament.
Ryan Larson, junior
Larson was a solid contributor to last year’s team.
The junior started 51 games, with 47 of those in right field and four in left.
Larson hit .330 in SEC play, which ranked second on the team, and was 7-for-8 in stolen-base attempts.
Larson isn’t known for his bat, but he is solid in the outfield defensively and should continue that trend this year.
Key Newcomer: Danny Reyes
Reyes might be able to fight for some playing time this year along with Santa Fe transfer Nick Horvath.
Reyes was the No. 38 recruit in the country, and the No. 2 outfielder in Florida by Perfect Game.
He cranked nine home runs in his senior season, a single-season school record, and helped Mater Academy High School to its first state title in history in his junior season.