The state of Florida is known for the athletes that have come out of the state to thrive in collegiate and professional organizations. While football is the headliner, the University of Florida is proving that the state isn’t lagging in producing top notch baseball talent either.
The Gators have feasted with rosters that have been largely comprised of in-state athletes, and have made four consecutive trips to the College World Series in Omaha, NE. The 2014 Gators recruiting class featured only three players from outside of Florida, while the 2015-2017 classes only contained four prospects (total) that didn’t reside in state. Clearly, Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has chosen to target local prospects who are familiar with the Gators brand and successes.
One local prospect who recently announced his commitment to Florida is Ocala native, Tyler Owens. Owens is a rising senior at Trinity Catholic High who recently touched 98 mph on his fastball. Owens chose the Gators via a Twitter post on July 21 after spending much time as a Florida State commit.
— Tyler Owens (@Owenstyler34) July 21, 2018
Owens chose to decommit from the Seminoles due to the uncertainty in the program with Coach Mike Martin set to retire after the 2019 season. Florida State has chosen not to look for a new coach until after the season, leaving many of the current recruits in the dark.
Within a week of his decommitment, O’Sullivan and the Gators staff offered Owens. Owens was familiar with the Florida coaching staff after attending a camp several years ago. Owens stated that Gators assistant coach Craig Bell has even watched him pitch several times.
But why would Florida swoop in and immediately offer Owens?
Aside from a fastball that is among the highest velocity of any high school prospect in the country, he has shown good command of a sharp slider and a good change up.
Perfect Game has Owens ranked as the #10 prospect in the state and the #53 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting class.
Owens is listed by Perfect Game at 5’10, 185 lbs, not exactly the frame that screams ace by baseball standards. He states that he is determined to prove that height isn’t everything when it comes to a pitcher, and that he will prove any doubters wrong.
What’s next for Tyler Owens?
Owens will finish his high school career in Ocala next spring. Owens and Trinity Catholic made it to the Regional finals before falling to #1 seed Calvary Christian (Clearwater). Owens missed much of the year with a scapular imbalance which caused inflammation in his shoulder, but he did return for the playoff run. Owens is completely healed and stated “I have never felt better, and my velocity has made a big jump.”
The Celtics will feature several division one prospects as they boast power hitting outfielder (and UF commit) Jud Fabian, and catcher (and FSU commit) Bryce Boone. Owens is excited to play with Fabian at the next level stating that it “is going to be unreal because [we] grew up playing with each other since we were eight.”
Florida will have a special player headed to campus in the summer of 2019. Someone who has grown up as a fan of the Orange and Blue. Someone who understands the tradition of Florida baseball. Someone who “can’t wait to play for [Coach O’Sullivan].”