Sept. 18, 2007
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida State Baseball team will take to the field for their first day of fall practice on Wednesday, September 19 under the direction of Mike Martin, who is entering his 29th season as the head coach of the Seminoles. FSU returns 15 letterwinners including five starters, with at least 15 starts at one position, from the 2007 squad that finished the season with an overall record of 49-13 while claiming the ACC Atlantic Division title. On the other end, the Seminoles lost 17 letterwinners and six starters from a season ago and will combat that by welcoming one of the biggest incoming classes that FSU has had in recent years with the addition of 20 newcomers in 2008.
Among the starters returning for the upcoming season include All-American catcher Buster Posey, Freshman All-American third baseman Jason Stidham, right fielder Jack Rye, outfielder/first baseman Dennis Guinn and starting pitcher Ryan Strauss.
Posey started all 62 games from behind the plate in 2007 and became the first sophomore to be named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate catcher. In his first season behind the plate, Posey helped the Seminole pitching staff post a team ERA of 3.57, good for third in the ACC. He also finished second on the team in hitting with a .382 average.
Stidham returns for his second year after starting 61 games at third base as a freshman. He hit .366 with 17 doubles, six home runs and 48 RBI’s. Rye brings a wealth of experience with 183 starts under his belt, the most of any other Seminole entering the season. The senior from Irvine, Calif., is coming off his best season as a Seminole hitting .372 with 87 hits, 10 home runs and 61 RBI’s. Rye is a career .348 hitter.
Guinn is back for his senior year after suffering a PCL tear to his right knee which he suffered on a diving fielding attempt in left field in the series finale against Virginia Tech last year. Guinn saw action in 45 games as a junior where he hit .286 with five home runs and 37 runs batted in. Strauss is the lone returning starter from the Seminole weekend rotation in 2007 where he went 10-3 with a 3.40 ERA. He made 17 appearances with 16 starts and threw over 87 innings last year.
With 32 combined starts in the outfield, Ohmed Danesh and Ruairi O’Connor are back in 2008. Danesh is coming off a fantastic summer where he ranked in the top 10 of the Florida Collegiate Summer League in 10 offensive categories while leading the league in doubles, total bases and slugging percentage. Last year, O’Connor hit .296 in 44 games for Florida State tallying 10 doubles and 22 RBI’s.
Also back for Florida State are a pair of infielders in junior Tommy Oravetz and sophomore Stephen Cardullo. Oravetz appeared in 51 games in 2007 making 10 starts including nine as the Seminole designated hitter. He was a reliable candidate in pinch hitting situations a year ago as he was the team leader in that category. Cardullo hit .273 in 12 games last year with a home run and five RBI’s.
O’Dell made five starts and was 3-1 with a 5.06 ERA in his first season with the Seminoles. The Kissimmee, Fla., native is coming off an impressive summer in the Florida Collegiate League where he posted a 5-1 record and a 2.01 ERA. He led the FCSL in innings pitched (53.2) and complete games (2).
Marshall finished the 2007 season with the lowest ERA on the staff at 1.39. He made 23 appearances and was 2-0 in 32.1 innings of work. He allowed just five runs all of last season and ended the year by not allowing a run in 10 straight relief appearances, a span covering 13.1 innings.
Fairel went 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA, the second lowest earned run average on the team in 2007. He appeared in 21 games for the Seminoles as a freshman working 33.2 innings.
The Seminoles will look to replace a pair of starting pitchers in Bryan Henry and Michael Hyde. The duo went a combined 24-4 during their senior campaign making 34 starts, while throwing over 200 innings.
Florida State took a hit from the Major League Baseball Draft this past summer as six underclassmen were selected with four signing professional contracts in the off-season. Among those who signed were Tony Thomas, Jr. (Chicago Cubs, 3rd Round), Mark Hallberg (Arizona Diamondbacks, 9th Round), Mark Gildea (Washington Nationals, 9th Round) and Danny Rosen (Arizona Diamondbacks, 41st Round). Strauss and Rye were the two underclassman to return to Florida State as Strauss was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 35th round and Rye in the 46th round by the San Francisco Giants.
With the departure of Thomas, Hallberg and Brandon Reichert (graduation), Stidham is the lone returning starting infielder heading into the 2008 season. Guinn will look to replace Reichert at first, while transfers Tony Delmonico (Tennessee) and Stephen Halford (UNC Wilmington) will vie for playing time in the infield.
Joining Delmonico and Halford are 18 other newcomers for the 2008 season. The following is a brief look at the new faces to don the Garnet and Gold beginning this fall.
Parker Brunelle, Catcher, Snellville, GA
6’2″ 190 lbs.
Brunelle excelled in both baseball and football at Wesleyan School in Norcross, Ga.. A switch-hitting catcher, Brunelle is very sound and consistent from behind the plate. Considered a leader by many of the Florida State coaches, the Georgia native stood out in the East Cobb Perfect Game Tournament and is ranked as the 63rd best prospect as a position player by Perfect Game.
Calvin Brutus, RHP, Hardee, FL
6’4″ 204 lbs.
Brutus brings success both on and off the diamond to Florida State. A star in both baseball and swimming at Hardee High School, Brutus was named MVP in both sports during his junior year. He finished his high school swimming career as a three-time captain and team MVP. The right-hander was named to the FACA All-Star Baseball Team in 2005 and played against some of the best high school talent in Florida. Brutus was a four-time honor roll student at Hardee and carried his academic success over to his junior college career as well. At South Florida Community College, Brutus made the Dean’s List in 2006 and 2007 and was Vice President of the Student Government Association in 2007.
Tony Delmonico, Infielder, Knoxville, TN
6’0″ 194 lbs.
Delmonico transfers to Florida State after two very successful seasons at the University of Tennessee where he led the Volunteers in runs (53), home runs (9), RBIs (49), and walks (35) last year. Delmonico was named to the All-Tournament team at the SEC Tournament after belting two home runs and driving in four runs. As a freshman, Delmonico was a member of the SEC All-Freshman team after hitting .335 with 36 RBIs and three homers. He was a star at Farragut High School in Knoxville and earned All-State and District MVP Honors as a junior. The infielder helped Farragut win back-to-back national championships in 2003 and 2004 and earn Top 5 national rankings in both years.
John Doolittle, Catcher, Newman, GA
6’1″ 192 lbs.
A two-sport athlete at Northgate High School, Doolittle excelled both in the classroom and on the field. The right-handed hitting catcher graduated with a 3.2 GPA and also played football. His 15 home runs during his senior season led the team. Doolittle also drove in 38 runs and hit .338 in the spring of 2007. His efforts earned him 1st Team All-County accolades.
Taiwan Easterling, RHP/OF, Hattiesburg, MS
5’11” 192 lbs.
Easterling was rated a three-star athlete by Rivals.com coming out of high school at Oak Grove. He was named to the “Dandy Dozen” as well as Mississippi’s Mr. Baseball by the Clarion-Ledger. Easterling hit .455 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI’s in leading Oak Grove to its ninth baseball state championship. He was selected in the 6th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Florida Marlins with the 196th overall pick. Easterling graduated high school with a 3.3 GPA.
Tyler Everett, RHP/Utility, Tallahassee, FL
6’2″ 202 lbs.
Everett starred on the diamond at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla. As both a pitcher and a position player, Everett earned Second Team All-State honors in both his junior and senior campaigns. He posted a 5-1 record on the mound and hit .430 in 2006. His efforts earned him first team All-Big Bend accolades and helped Lincoln reach the state playoffs. In 2007, Everett was named second team All-Big Bend, batted .365 and posted a 5-1 record on the hill as he helped Lincoln reach the state regional finals. The right-hander’s father, Jimmy Everett, played football at Florida State from 1971-1974.
John Gast, LHP, Longwood, FL
6’2″ 216 lbs.
A stand-out at Lake Brantley High School, John Gast earned Seminole County’s Player of the Year award in 2007. Gast struck out 85 batters in just 57 2/3 innings while posting a 1.18 ERA before dropping his first game of the season in April. With a fastball that touches 90 on the radar gun and the ability to command three pitches, Gast took his talents to the U.S. Junior National Team last summer. The southpaw was drafted 170th overall in the 5th round by the Texas Rangers in the 2007 MLB Draft.
Stephen Halford, Shortstop, Raleigh, NC
6’2″ 196 lbs.
Halford joins the Seminoles after spending two seasons at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He led the UNCW with a .352 average and 52 runs scored playing every day as the team’s starting shortstop in 2007. As a freshman, Halford set a freshman school record with a 12-game hitting streak and hit a game-winning home run against Wake Forest. Halford set season (9) and career (20) home run marks at Wakefield High School. He helped Wakefield achieve a 42-6 record in two seasons and hit .472 his senior year.
Tyler Holt, Outfielder, Gainesville, FL
5’11” 175 lbs.
Holt starred at Gainesville High School, lettering and starting on the school’s varsity team all four years. The outfielder was named third team All-State as a freshman, second team All-State as a junior and earned first team All-State honors as a sophomore and senior. Holt had a remarkable senior season as he hit .608 with six home runs, 42 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases. He is also a great student as he graduated high school with a 3.92 weighted GPA and was a member of the Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society.
Matthew Kane, Catcher, Lake Worth, FL
6’1″ 198 lbs.
Kane played four years of baseball at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington, Fla., and helped his team reach outstanding success during his high school career. Kane led Central to three consecutive Regional Finals appearances in the FHSAA 6A State Playoffs. During his senior season, Kane helped his school reach a 22-6 record before falling to two-time defending champion Flanagan High in the Regional Finals. During his junior year, Kane’s Palm Beach Central squad was an incredible 27-1 during the season but again fell to Flanagan in the Regional Finals.
Michael Martinez, LHP, Miami, FL
6’3″ 220 lbs.
Martinez played four years of varsity baseball at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami. The left-hander compiled a 9-0 pitching record as a junior and earned Second Team All-Dade honors. Martinez helped Columbus earn a playoff bid in his senior season and was recognized by being named on the All-Dade Honorable Mention team. His pitching contributions led Columbus to three playoff appearances, including a Regional Final in 2006, in Florida’s highest high school classification (6A). Martinez was selected in the 43rd round by the Washington Nationals with the 1275th overall selection.
Mike McGee, RHP, Port St. Lucie, FL
6’0″ 172 lbs.
A utility player in high school, McGee hit over .400 in three straight seasons at Port St. Lucie High. McGee earned All-State Honorable Mention honors as a sophomore and Second Team All-State as a junior. He finished his junior year with a 1.27 ERA and a 7-4 record while striking out 81 batters in 66 innings. McGee started the FHSAA 2007 5A State semifinal game and allowed just two runs while picking up the win and leading his team to the championship.
Geoff Parker, RHP/Utility, Dade City, FL
6’3″ 245 lbs.
Parker was a standout both at the plate and on the mound for Zephryhills High School. Winning 10 games on the mound, Parker posted a remarkable 1.29 ERA. His efforts earned him team MVP in his senior season and a First-Team All-State selection by the FSWA. Parker was also named First-Team All-Conference in both his junior and senior seasons at Zephryhills.
Mark Peterson, LHP, Ft. Pierce, FL
6’4″ 184 lbs.
Peterson has showcased his baseball talents all around the country and will continue to do so for the Seminoles. Peterson has competed in the World Wood Bat Tournament in East Cobb, Ga., the Tournament of Stars in Joplin, Mo., and the Cape Cod High School Classic in Wareham, Mass. The left-hander was named third team All-State as a senior. Peterson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 50th round of the 2007 draft.
Nick Polston, Outfielder, Lake Wales, FL
6’1″ 220 lbs.
Polston comes to Florida State after a successful two years at South Florida Community College and an impressive career at Lake Wales High School. An outfielder who also has experience playing catcher, Polston was named All-County in 2004 and 2005. He helped propel his high school into the state playoffs his senior year and took home All-State honors, as well. Polston transfers to FSU with two years of eligibility remaining.
Jack Posey, Infielder, Leesburg, GA
6’1″ 224 lbs.
Posey was named to the All-Region team as a sophomore and again as a senior at Lee County High School. His .319 career batting average in high school earned him a spot on Team Georgia. He helped Team Georgia take home the Sunbelt Classic title and earned All-Tournament accolades. Jack is the brother of Seminole catcher Buster Posey and was a high school teammate of Seminole quarterback D’Vontrey Richardson.
Luke Smierciak, RHP/Utility, Gainesville, FL
5’10” 163 lbs.
Smierciak was a two-sport star at Gainesville High School, competing in both football and baseball. Smierciak posted a remarkable 18-2 record on the mound in his high school career, including a 10-0 mark as a senior. He was named a First-Team All-State selection his senior year as he also hit .478 with 19 doubles. Smierciak batted .485 as a junior and was also 6-2 with 107 strikeouts on the hill. He was named MVP of his high school team both his junior and senior seasons and was also given his football team’s leadership award as a sophomore. He led Gainesville High School to a 26-2 regular season record his senior year before they lost to Tallahassee Lincoln in the Regional Semifinals. The right-hander was high school teammates with Seminole Tyler Holt.
Stuart Tapley, Shortstop, Orlando, FL
5’10” 204 lbs.
Tapley played both baseball and football at Boone High School in Orlando. He was named All-Metro three consecutive years in his high school career. Tapley was the winning pitcher in the U.S. Championship Game in the 2001 Little League World Series against the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx, NY. He played fall baseball for the Orlando Scorpions, a well respected traveling team that competes in many of the top amateur baseball tournaments nationwide. Past Scorpions include current Seminoles Ohmed Danesh and John Gast, as well as past Noles such as Tony Thomas Jr. and Ryne Malone. Tapley was an outstanding student, as well, and was a two-year member of the National Honor Society.
Ryan Vigue, LHP, Merritt Island, FL
6’0″ 182 lbs.
Vigue was a four-year letterman at Merritt Island High School. He was named team Pitcher of the Year in both his sophomore and junior years, as well as MVP of his Merritt Island squad in his junior year. Vigue helped his high school reach the FHSAA Class 4A regional semi-finals as a junior. The southpaw was 10-1 with a 0.61 ERA in 2006. His efforts earned him first team All-Conference, All-Cape Coast, and All-State honors. Vigue was also on the honor roll in his four years at Merritt Island.
Elih Villanueva, RHP, Miami, FL
6’2″ 235 lbs.
Villanueva transfers to Florida State with some impressive numbers in his high school and collegiate career. A 2004 graduate of Westminster Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Villanueva posted a 1.15 ERA to go along with a 10-3 record on his way to earning Second Team All-State honors. The Miami native pitched the 2005 campaign at Florida International University and compiled a 7-3 record in his freshman season. He was second on the team with 101.2 innings pitched and 79 strikeouts. In 2007 he had a phenomenal season for Miami-Dade College, striking out 109 batters in just 89.0 innings pitched. His 0.81 ERA earned him a spot as a NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Second Team All-American and helped Miami-Dade win the Southern Conference championship. He was also named FCCAA (Florida Community College Activities Association)’s Pitcher of the Year.