July 13, 2012

Following MLB Draft, FSU putting team together

With Friday's Major League Baseball Draft signing deadline passed the Florida State coaching staff now has a clear picture of whom they will and won't have on campus this fall.

FSU lost three of its four drafted juniors, and five of its eight drafted high school signees, including four pitchers.

The lone rising senior who will return to school in the fall is shortstop Justin Gonzalez, who hit .256 with nine home runs and 42 RBI in 2012.

"We felt really good with our class and things didn't work out for us, said FSU assistant coach Mike Martin Jr.. "Some years it does, some years it doesn't. So we had to make some adjustments. We said this program is going to win every year and we're going to go out and find guys. We've been hustling the last three weeks to put the pieces of the puzzle together and we feel like we've made some headway and we're still not done yet."

Going into the season FSU knew it would lose seniors James Ramsey and Sherman Johnson from the top of the order, but there was hope that Devon Travis and Jayce Boyd would return for their seasons.

However once the season ended Boyd and Travis, as well as closer Robert Benincasa, signed pro contracts and have already begun their minor league careers.

Travis hit .325 with eight home runs and 44 RBI as a junior and was the only of the three juniors who signed pro contracts that was drafted outside of the top 10 rounds. The Detroit Tigers selected the slick-fielding second baseman in the 13th round.

Because of the new draft rules, which stipulate teams can't spend more than $100,000 on signing bonuses for draftees outside of the first 10 rounds without it counting against their overall pool of money for its first 10 rounds of draft picks, there was hope that even after the season Travis would return for another year at FSU.

"Once he had the good College World Series, the Detroit organization they're all watching and the people that really make the decisions and have the money are watching and going 'Man that's a really good player.' We all knew it all along and that's generally how it works," Martin Jr. said. "The further you go the more exposure, the more exposure the more that the people who really have the pull see him and say 'Do what it takes to sign him,' and that's what they did."

With Travis' departure Martin Jr. went out and signed solid-fielding Treasure Coast High School shortstop Alvin Swoope.

"Alvin Swoope is a low to the ground type of player, a Devon Travis if you will," Martin Jr. said. "Plays low, plays fast, right-handed hitter that's got some thump in there. Very similar to Devon in that regard. Can play short, second, or third. That's what we tried to do is get some versatility."

In addition to Swoope, Martin Jr. also signed a trio of junior college players in Chipola State College catcher Ladson Montgomery, Walters State Community College (Tennessee) outfielder Marcus Davis and LHP Billy Strode from Indian River State College.

Montgomery is a solid defensive catcher who will provide depth behind Stephen McGee. A Jacksonville native who began his college career at Alabama, Montgomery hit .289 with 17 RBI last season.

Davis is an athletic outfielder who Martin Jr. expects to provide some pop in the middle of an order that is looking to replace its 1-4 hitters. Davis began his career at LSU before transferring to Walters State. The Cincinnati, Ohio native hit .317 with four home runs and 24 RBI as a sophomore.

"Marcus Davis is just a heck of an athlete from Walters State in Tennessee," Martin Jr. said. "He's an outfielder/first-baseman who can really juice the ball. Had a good amount of home runs at Walters State, a guy that we expect to hit in the middle of the order and provide production."

The final JUCO addition, Strode is a former two-sport star in high school at American Heritage High in West Palm Beach. The LHP was 6-4 with a 0.35 ERA in 17 appearances this season.

"Very athletic pitcher, played quarterback in high school," Martin Jr. said. "He actually had some mid-major offers (for football), has ran the spread and can do some things. He's kind of a late bloomer because of the football, but has really sold out (for baseball)… really came on the second half of the season. Not sure of his role, but with all the left-handers we lost in the draft we felt that we needed to add something to the left-handers we've got coming back."

Martin Jr. said he and the coaching staff are still looking to add a few more players to the 2012 signing class before school begins in August. The lat scrambling is a product of new MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed last summer. The new CBA originally was thought to be very beneficial for college baseball, but so far it has resulted in a higher number of college and high school draft picks signing pro deals.

"We all thought it would be different than it was and a lot of people didn't know the ins and outs of how it was going to work," Martin Jr. said. "It really favors (pro baseball) and it's a shame because there's a lot of kids that are signing that shouldn't be signing."

Florida State Draft Picks
123James RamseySt. Louis CardinalsSigned$1,600,000
3 comp126Tyler PikeSeattle MarinersSigned$850,000
6190Andre MartinezMinnesota TwinsSigned$260,000
6200Jayce BoydNew York MetsSigned$150,000
7234Robert BenincasaWashington NationalsSignedUndisclosed
8260Tomas NidoNew York MetsSigned$250,000
12390Max FoodySt. Louis CardinalsSigned$385,000
13424Devon TravisDetroit TigersSignedUndisclosed
14447Sherman JohnsonAnaheim AngelsSignedUndisclosed
14454Hunter ScantlingDetroit TigersSignedUndisclosed
15486Jameis WinstonTexas RangersOn Campus
17526Hayden HurstPittsburgh PiratesSignedUndisclosed
27836Justin GonzalezLos Angeles DodgersUnsigned
28877D.J. StewartNew York YankeesOn campus
391204John SansoneDetroit TigersOn campus

*Bonus figures according to perfectgame.org

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