On a team as stacked as Florida's, there are two newcomers that have stood out during Fall practice: freshmen pitchers Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar.
Both of them were highly successful in high school, dominating opposing hitters.
Singer finished his senior year at Eustis High in Leesburg, Florida, with an 8-3 record and a 1.25 ERA. He also amassed six complete games and 110 strikeouts in 67 innings.
Kowar was also almost unhittable during his senior year at Charlotte Christian School in North Carolina. The 6-foot-5 right hander went 10-1 with a school-record 0.20 ERA and had 118 strikeouts in 71 innings.
Following their successful senior years, both of them were drafted in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Singer was drafted in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays, while Kowar was taken in the 40th round by the Detroit Tigers.
But instead of going pro, they decided that it would be better for their long-term futures to attend Florida — a team already loaded with talent. And they haven’t let the other players on the team intimidate them.
Instead, they’ve excelled, and Florida's hitters have taken notice.
"(It’s) a lot different than facing some of the other freshmen," junior outfielder Ryan Larson said. "I think they’re a little more mature and a little more advanced, the stuff that they have and how they go about their business. They definitely have matured very quickly."
Larson said one of the reasons Singer and Kowar matured and have been so effective during practice is that Florida's older pitchers have begun to mentor them.
One of those veteran pitchers is staff ace Logan Shore.
Shore has stepped up as a leader for the Gators during the offseason and has been impressed with the freshmen — especially Singer.
"It’s electric," Shore said of Singer's stuff. "You guys have seen it and you will see it this year. He’s 94-95 with a changeup and a slider, so it’s pretty impressive for a freshman."
Relief pitcher Shaun Anderson has also been impressed with Singer’s ability.
"I mean, I haven’t seen him throw actual live games, only against our hitters," Anderson said. "Against our hitters he’s been pretty effective. He had a really good fall, but we’ll see how he does in the spring."
As Anderson mentioned, facing players on your own team during simulated games is one thing, but those situations pale in comparison to facing hitters on opposing teams.
Expectations for Singer and Kowar are high, and handling the burden of Southeastern Conference play and postseason baseball will be their ultimate goal.