National runner-up Florida was barely six months removed from the most successful baseball campaign in school history when Tampa Alonso sophomore Tommy Toledo trekked to Gainesville for the Gators baseball camp.
What happened next was totally unexpected.
Florida pitching coach Ross Jones said told Toledo that he should expect to have a really bright future throwing the baseball.
“I hadn’t heard too much from the Gators or gotten any letters or anything,” Toledo said. “The coach approached me and my family and asked if he could speak to us. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. For him to do that in front of my family was a really cool thing. It was a big moment for my family and all of us.
The Gators followed the young right-hander’s career and Toledo proved them correct on their assessment. The kid who developed a real passion for the game as a youth league player was soon fielding offers from several schools, including Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, and Miami.
“The decision to come to Florida came pretty easily actually,” he said. “Florida has been regarded as a tremendous college and staying close to home, it all just felt right. My brother is a student there and I really love the coaches. I love the whole campus. It was an easy decision for me and my family. My parents are real appreciative of everything they‘ve done for me and we‘re looking forward to getting started.”
“Coach (Pat) McMahon is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met,” he added. “He’ll give you the shirt off his back. He really has incredible knowledge of the game and the way that he went about our whole recruiting process was excellent. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that man.”
“Right now I throw a fastball, curve, and change-up. My fastball has been clocked in the 90-93 range. My curveball is a hard breaking one, sometimes it‘s a little bit slower than usual. But, I’m working on that. They (the Florida coaches) told me that they’re not going to change everything that I do, they just want to tweak things to make me more effective. I’m looking forward to getting those lessons and getting started.”
The 6-3, 180 pounder has a reputation for locating his pitches and figures to be ready for the start of fall baseball. Toledo led Alonso to the championship in one of the most prestigious baseball tournaments in The Sunshine State when the Ravens took the Saladino Tournament by storm. Toledo threw a six hitter against Gaither in the Ravens 9-2 tournament semi-final victory. He handcuffed Gaither with each of his three pitches.
“Right now I throw a fastball, curve, and change-up,” Toledo stated. “My fastball has been clocked in the 90-93 range. My curveball is a hard breaking one, sometimes it‘s a little bit slower than usual. But, I’m working on that. They (the Florida coaches) told me that they’re not going to change everything that I do, they just want to tweak things to make me more effective. I’m looking forward to those lessons and getting started.”
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Alonso completed perhaps the finest season in school history. The Ravens finished 27-4, before dropping a 3-2 decision to traditional state power Sarasota High School.
“We had a tremendous team this year,“ Toledo said. “Our team was well-rounded. We had a lot of great guys in a lot of positions. This was a big year for Alonso. We did a lot of things that we haven’t been able to do before. We went to the regional finals and lost in the regional championship.”
The Ravens made the state tournament in his freshmen year and came up just short during his sophomore campaign.
Toledo completed his senior season with a 9-2 record. He was 6-1 a year ago with a .070 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 40 innings.
He spent last summer pitching for the Midland (Ohio) Redskins where he finished 8-0 with a 1.07 ERA. The club captured the 18-Under Perfect Game Baseball Championship Series held in Jupiter, Florida.
“There’s definitely a chance that I could get drafted and have a decision to make, but I’m not really thinking about that too much,” he said regarding the upcoming draft. “I’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’ve heard from a few teams. I’ve heard some mediocre things and a few good things, so we’ll see. I’m definitely looking forward to being a Gator. I mean, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”