Florida head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan must to feel as though he hit for the cycle and led his team to the best record in the conference in one day. Tampa Alonso hurler Tommy Toledo did not accept the San Diego Padres’ final offer and opted to combine education and baseball at the University of Florida.
“It was pretty black and white for us,” Toledo said. “Either they (San Diego) came up with what we wanted or I was going to Florida. We were in a no-lose situation. They came up with the last offer early in the afternoon. We were just sitting back seeing if anything else was going to happen again. When we finally made our decision it was pretty late, like around eleven o’clock. So, we were like, that’s fine I’ll enjoy myself at Florida.”
Toledo was the 87th overall selection in the June draft after completing a sensational senior year in which he compiled a 9-2 record with a 1.01 ERA. Toledo fanned 84 batters, while allowing only 23 walks in 76 innings. The 2007 Rawlings Pre-season All-American also earned many accolades after the season. He was named Hillsborough County Player of the Year, Tampa Tribune Player of the Year, St. Petersburg Times Player of the Year, and was the MVP of the prestigious Saladino Tournament.
Two other facets of his game are well-addressed too. He cranked out a .411 average with seven home runs and 31 runs batted in. Toledo also finished errorless for the Ravens in the field.
Initially, it’s seemed as if there was little doubt the Padres would get the deal finalized. The team talked often enough to the Toledo family and extended an invitation to visit with them.
“I never went out west, never went out to San Diego,” Toledo stated. “We’ve talked to them over the past two months and they’ve come to the house. We were invited to a (Tampa Bay) Devil Rays game where we met some of the Padres guys. That was pretty cool. We learned a lot and it was a great opportunity for us. It was lucky for us that they came down for Interleague play. Yeah, I talked to Greg Maddux. He’s a great guy, but we didn’t really want to bother him, because he was pitching that day. He’s really funny and really cool.”
Obviously, some players find the grind of classes and sports not to their liking. It’s doubtful that will be a problem for Toledo though. He finished with a sparkling 5.5 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society, and received a Presidential Academic Award. He also was awarded a Golden Raven Award, which is given to 10 Alonso High School students for integrity, excellence, and pride.
Toledo was recruited and signed by former coaches Pat McMahon and Ross Jones. Some speculated that their dismissal might work against the Gators in this situation, but that was not the case. The entire Toledo family has been long time Gators. Furthermore, the changes perfectly suit Tommy.
“Coach (Kevin) O’Sullivan was great,” Toledo said. “He kept in touch the last two weeks. I talked to him every couple of days. He’s been really good. He didn’t pressure me or anything like that. He just wanted to see that everything was going okay. I’m heading to Gainesville tomorrow afternoon. I have to check in at eight Saturday morning.”
Some Florida fans have already committed to breaking out the “Holy Toledo!!” signs at McKethan Stadium next spring. That opportunity wasn’t on the table a few weeks ago, yet here we sit with the deadline passed and the Florida baseball program as the beneficiaries. You’ll get no complaints in Gainesville. We have no problem charging that error to the Padres.