LaPorta named to US Olympic Team
Former UF first baseman Matt LaPorta on Wednesday was among 23 players named to the 2008 United States Olympic baseball team.
LaPorta is currently playing in AA Akron in the Cleveland Indians organization. He was recently acquired by the Indians in a trade that sent 2007 American League Cy Young Award winnner CC Sabathia to Milawukee. Baseball America currently rankes LaPorta as the top prospect in Cleveland's farm system.
"It has been like a roller coaster, some good things and bad things that have gone on past couple of weeks,'' LaPorta said during a national teleconference this afternoon. "Overall, I'm very excited and thankful to have this opportunity to represent my country and play baseball for them.''
LaPorta is the first player in SEC history to receive the league's Player of the Year award twice, and was a consensus All-American. A finalist for the prestigious USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award and the Brooks Wallace Award, LaPorta completed his collegiate career third on
the SEC's all-time list with 74 home runs, a total which ranks among the top 10 in Division I history. His 206 RBI are second on UF's chart behind Wilkerson (214).
LaPorta is the second Gator to represent the US in baseball in the Olympics. Brad Wilkerson earned a gold medal in the Sydney Summer Games in 2000.
USA Baseball manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday he's unsure where LaPorta will play.
"Matt is an outfielder, but he played first base at Florida, so we'll see,'' Johnson said. "He looked awful good at first base in the futures game. Obviously we had heard a lot of good things about him. We have a number of scouts that get on conference calls and talk about players. Look at numbers and tell a guy knows the game, srike zone. He's an aggressive hitter, he's got a good idea of what he's doing when he's up there. He gives us a lot of flexibilty if we want to use him at first or in the outfield.''