Nov. 18, 2004
Tallahassee, FL – The Florida State baseball program announced the signing of 12 players to National Letters of Intent Wednesday. The group includes two AFLAC All-Americans, a USA junior Olympian and three players from Tallahassee. Overall, eight of the players who signed NLI’s are from Florida and seven are projected to at least see some time on the hill for FSU.
“This is a good class and I especially like the arms we have coming in,” said FSU associate head coach Jamey Shouppe. “There are a bunch of kids that throw 90+ and overall it is a group full of great athletes. A lot of these guys can play anywhere so I think the versatility of this class is a major plus. This group will be a great compliment to the young talent we already have in this program.”
Despite signing eight in-state players, two of the biggest signees in the group are from out of state. The Tribe’s two AFLAC All-Americans hail from Mississippi and just about a 1 ½ away in Leesburg, GA. Buster Posey was Georgia’s 1-5A Player of the Year and is rated as a top 15 prospect in the nation. He was a member of 2004 USA Junior Olympic team that played in Taiwan and finished in second place. Posey is one of just two high schoolers entering college rated as true two-way players by Baseball America. Catcher Kyle Maxie is from Hattiesburg, MS and is a first team all-state player who hit .505 as a junior with 50 hits of which more than half went for extra bases including 25 doubles.
“Getting two players of this talent is so important to our program,” said Shouppe. “You can’t load up on this type of player because there is a risk you are going to lose them to the draft but both of these players, as good as they are, have a good chance to see college. Both are great students and hopefully they will want to continue their educations. When we recruit out of state you have to look at what kind of student you are getting. We believe all of our out-of-sate players have the family background that will make them lean towards going to college.
“Kyle Maxie is a guy we saw a few years ago at our camp and we fell in love with him as a baseball player. He is a guy who will do a lot of damage to that screen in right field because he is a tremendous left-handed hitter. Buster Posey is hands down one of the best players in the country if not the best.”
Last season FSU entered 2004 with one player on the roster from Tallahassee. This week the Seminoles inked three local prospects. Jimmy Marshall, Tommy Oravetz and Sean Stuyverson all played locally. Oravetz and Marshall played at Lawton Chiles High School and Stuyverson at North Florida Christian.
“Baseball in Tallahassee is thriving and it is important for us to keep that local contact with players going,” said Shouppe. “Tommy’s dad obviously works at FSU (Director of Sports Medicine Randy Oravetz). Sean Stuyverson grew up a Florida State fan. Jimmy Marshall grew up in Tallahassee wanting to play for Florida State. There are outstanding athletes in Tallahassee that can play here and it is important for us as a coaching staff to make sure that the local kids that have the ability to play at FSU get that opportunity.
“A lot of programs shy away from local talent but we have never done that. The coaches in this city are very good and many have played in our program. I think it is a compliment to this program that the coaches in Tallahassee feel so strongly about our program that they want their kids to play at Florida State. They encourage their kids to come to FSU.”
Outside of Tallahassee, FSU went back to central Florida where they picked up two more of the area’s top prospects. Brett Morris is from Valrico and will join former Bloomingdale High School teammates Tony Thomas and Ryan Strauss at FSU. Morris is rated nationally among the top 25 high school seniors at first base. Caleb Graham from Tampa’s Gaither High School is another central Florida signee for the Seminoles. The right-handed pitcher was an all-state selection in 2004.
The Tribe also signed two other out of state prospects in South Carolina’s Brady Thomas and Ruairi O’Connor from Illinois. O’Connor was the top rated player in Illinois and was rated 42nd overall at the Perfect Game National Showcase. He was named all-state by the Chicago Tribune and has a lifetime batting average of .425 at Oak Park High School. Thomas is an all-region selection in South Carolina and is an all-state candidate in 2005. He played for an AAU National Champion in 2003 and caught for four AAU State Champions as well.
The Seminoles also inked three players from north Florida in junior college transfers Neil Malpass and Luke Tucker along with Port St. Joe’s Travis Burge. Burge was an All-Big Bend first team selection and an all-state selection as well. Malpass was the Player of the Year and an all-state selection as well in 2003 before heading to Alabama Southern. Tucker was all-conference at Okaloosa Walton College after being named all-state as a senior at Niceville High School.
“It is obviously important that we stay in state as much as possible because of the scholarship limitations,” said Shouppe. “It is also important when you have kids from out of state that can play you do everything you can to recruit them and get them in especially when they are the caliber of the four we signed in this class. We feel like Ruairi can come in and play right away, as can all of our out-of-state kids.
“We saw three of those kids in our camps and that is key because it shows they have an interest and we also get to see them up close. These kids have the ability to play here and we certainly want them to come and play at Florida State.”
A full list of FSU’s 12 early signees with their complete bios are listed below.
Port St. Joe, FL (Port St. Joe HS)
A 2004 third team All-State selection by the Florida Sportswriters Association…2004 first team All-Big Bend…two-time high school defensive player of the year…Dizzy Dean 14-year old World Series Champions All-Tournament team…went 13-1 with a 0.88 ERA in 2004 at Port Saint Joe High School leading the squad to the regional semi-finals…in 88 innings pitched, he recorded five shutouts and allowed just 11 earned runs…recorded 129 strikeouts and issued just eight walks…also picked up three saves…posted a .338 average with 25 RBI in 80 at bats…recorded four doubles, a triple and 21 walks…also scored 18 runs on his 27 hits…stole nine bases…in his one start in summer ball at American Legion Panama City Post 377, Burge went 1-0 in six innings of work with 12 K’s, two walks and just one earned run. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: He reminds us a lot of former Seminole Trent Peterson who is now in the Oakland A’s organization. Small in stature but has a great arm. He throws a good change-up and a very good curve ball. He also throws a sinking, moving fastball.
Tampa, FL (Gaither HS)
All-state honorable mention 2004 from the Florida Sportswriters Association…second team all-county 2004…first team all-conference 2004…two-time winning pitcher in the 2003 Colt World Series championship game…MVP of the 2003 Tony Saladino Tournament…two-time winner of Top Pitcher award at Gaither…second team Western Conference in 2003…Gaither Rookie of the Year in 2002…posted a 0.72 ERA while going 8-1 in 2004…pitched 58 innings and allowed just 31 hits in 217 at bats while holding opponents to a .143 batting average…allowed only six earned runs while striking out 72 batters…hit .353 in just 34 at bats with 10 RBIs, five runs scored, four doubles, a triple and one stolen base…posted an on base percentage of .532 and drew 12 walks…National Honor Society member and Western Conference Scholar Athlete. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Caleb is a really impressive right-hander who reminds us a lot of former FSU All-American Blair Varnes. Has a good fastball that he throws up near 90 MPH. Drops and throws from two different arm slots and does it very effectively.
Niceville, FL (Okaloosa Walton College/Niceville HS)
Named Daily News baseball player of the year…Florida Sportswriters Association third team All-State selection in the outfield in 2003…hit .404 as a senior with 21 RBI and 33 runs scored from the leadoff spot…stole eight bases, was on base 53% of the time and even struck out 39 batters in 32 innings as a reliever and spot starter…named Niceville’s team MVP in 2003…graduated high school Magna Cum Laude with a 4.3 GPA…father Blake served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Neil is a guy we recruited out of high school. We definitely see him as an outfielder but could see some time on the hill. He is a great athlete that runs well. His fastball has been clocked in the mid-80’s.
Tallahassee, FL (Lawton Chiles HS)
First team all-state Class 4A 2004…ranked as the nation’s 102nd high school player by Prospects Plus…2004 Baseball America Fall Wood Bat Team… Chiles MVP in 2004…Class 4A district player of the year…lifetime 0.90 ERA in two years at Chiles…8-1 in two years as a starter…has an almost 5 to 1 ratio of strikeouts to walks (84:17)…has allowed just 16 runs all-time in 70 career innings on the hill…last season Marshall went 6-1 in 50.2 innings of work with a 0.83 ERA…allowed just 12 runs while striking out 65 batters and walking nine…over one third of the 181 batters he faced last year were strike out victims and only 17% reached base…was a perfect 2-0 with four saves in 2003…recorded 19 strikeouts in 19 innings of work…a lifetime .392 hitter at Chiles with eight career homeruns, 14 doubles, one triple, 34 runs scored, 60 RBI and 65 hits…improved his batting average from sophomore year to junior year by 79 percentage points as he hit .426 in 2004…slugged .702 as a junior hitting four homers, 12 doubles and a triple while driving in 38 runs…posted a .519 on base percentage while recording 40 hits in 94 at bats…scored 20 runs as well…hit .347 as a sophomore and drove in 22 runs and once again went yard on four occasions. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: We see Jimmy as possibly a two-way player for us. Played for former FSU player Greg Jones at Chiles High School and is a teammate of another one of our signee’s Tommy Oravetz. He is a very talented player who has been clocked as high as 94 MPH.
Hattiesburg, MS (North Forrest HS)
One of two 2004 AFLAC All-Americans to join the Seminoles…named first team all-state by the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) in 2004 and all-state again by the MAC in 2003…three-time member of the District VIII All-District team…hit .505, homered five times and drove in 29 runs in 2004…recorded 50 hits half of which were doubles…reached base in almost 70% of his at bats and slugged .929…has a 3.94 GPA…a member of the North Forrest Hall of Fame…elected Vice President of his class. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Kyle is an AFLAC All-American out of Mississippi. He is a left-handed hitting catcher and we saw him at Christmas Camp as a 10th grader and we fell in love with him. He is a player that swings the bat very well and will be an outstanding hitter.
Valrico, FL (Bloomingdale HS)
An All-Hillsborough County honorable mention selection…he hit .325 last season at Bloomingdale…former teammate of current Seminoles Ryan Strauss and Tony Thomas…posted a .330 average and a 6-1 record on the mound this past summer…in the top 25 nationally for high school seniors at first base according to Team One…his Bloomingdale team was a member of the 2004 6A Final Four in Florida. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Left-handed first baseman who could possibly pitch. Fastball has been clocked in the mid-80’s. He is a big kid but very athletic.
River Forest, IL (Oak Park-River Forest HS)
The #1 rated player in Illinois by PG/Baseball America and Midwest Prospects since June of 2002…rated 42nd at the Perfect Game National Showcase in June of 2004…projected as a third-10th round draft choice by Baseball America prior to signing with the Seminoles…earned all-conference honors as a sophomore…Chicago Tribune All-State catcher special mention in 2003…attended the Chicago White Sox Silver & Black Series/Combine in the summer of 2004…Area Code tryouts summer of 2004…Minnesota Twins Top Prospect Team (East Coast MLB Showcase) summer 2004…a three year varsity starter and two year captain…in three years at Oak Park-River Forest he collected 110 hits and posted a batting average of .425 with 14 HR, eight triples and 43 doubles in 259 at bats…after just three seasons, O’Connor finished third all-time for home runs in school history…slugged .814 with an on base percentage of .515…junior year he hit .377 with three home runs and 27 RBI while playing short…this past summer with the Indiana Yankees he hit .473 with three HR and struck out only four times in 55 at bats on top of playing seven positions for the Yankees…as a sophomore O’Connor batted .449, slugged 1.017 and was on base 56% of the time…hit eight homers, drove in 47 runs and struck out just once per every 10 at bats…J. Kyle Baird Leadership Award…starting QB on varsity football team as a sophomore…has a 3.5 GPA…father Pat is an FSU grad and his mother Irene attended FSU before eventually getting her degree from Harvard. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Ruairi can play almost anywhere. We see him as a third baseman, first baseman and utility guy who can even play behind the plate if we need him to. He is an outstanding hitter. He committed to us after coming to camp his sophomore year. He really wanted to come to Florida State and he bleeds Garnet and Gold, which is great. He has waited a long time to sign with us.
Tallahassee, FL (Lawton Chiles HS)
All Big Bend fist team in 2004…2004 class 4A all-state honorable mention…named Chiles’ Offensive MVP in 2004 and defensive MVP in 2003…led Chiles in batting (.438) in 2004 and in on base percentage in 2004 (.610) and 2003 (.536)…hit .438, slugged .685 and drove in 25 runs in 2004…in 73 at bats, Oravetz hit 11 doubles, two triples and one homer and struck out just 10 times…scored 30 runs and was on base 61% of the time…also swiped seven bases and drew 14 walks…son of FSU’s Director of Sports Medicine Randy Oravetz. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: He is a left-handed hitter and a scrappy player out of Chiles. He holds all kinds of records for being hit by pitches and plays the game hard. Really reminds the staff of Seminole great Jose Zabala. Although he is a right-handed second baseman, we caught him at camp pitching left-handed at 78 MPH. That is just one sign of his athleticism.
Leesburg, GA (Lee County HS)
One of two 2004 AFLAC All-Americans to join the Seminoles…World Wood Bat Association top 15 prospect…named the nation’s 18th-best prospect by Prospects Plus…played in Taiwan as a member of the 2004 USA Junior Olympic team…the only pitcher on the USA Junior Olympic team to start two games on the hill at the 2004 IBAF World Championships…pitched more innings than any other hurler on the Olympic team and posted a 1.23 ERA with seven strikeouts…recorded a hit, drove in a run, recorded a run and drew a walk versus Korea in the championship game…picked up a win on the hill versus Cuba in an international exhibition game…went 3 for 4 with two triples, three runs scored and three RBIs in an exhibition game versus the Missouri All-Stars with the USA Junior Olympic team…went 2 for 2 with two runs scored and two RBIs in another exhibition game this time versus the Kansas All-Stars…at the USA Tournament of stars, Posey had five hits in five games and allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings on the mound…2004 1-AAAAA Player of the Year in Georgia…selected to attend the 2003 Georgia Dugout Club Showcase and the 2003 Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship…member of the 2003 Perfect Game All-Tournament team…named to the All-Tournament team at the Sunbelt Classic as Team Georgia won the title…2003 second team 1-AAAA All-Region shortstop…2003 Lee County Trojan baseball team MVP…had a monster junior season setting the record for the highest batting average of all-time (.544) and the record for RBI with 46…hit seven homers, nine doubles and three triples…his 56 hits were a school record and in 103 at bats, he Ked just nine times…also scored 23 runs…went 10-1 on the hill with a 1.53 ERA…had a 4 to 1 ratio of strikeouts to walks and is fourth all-time with 102 strikeouts last season…allowed just 14 earned runs in 64 innings of work…a lifetime .472 hitter, Posey has 66 career RBI to go along with 10 homers, 15 doubles, four triples and 83 hits…he has scored 57 runs and stolen 10 bases in his high school career…11-4 all-time on the mound with two saves…has a career ERA of 2.26 with 124 K’s and four complete games…clinched the Region 1-AAAAA championship with a grand slam…played four games this summer and in 12 at bats Posey scored seven runs, collected eight hits, drove in six runs, homered four times and also hit a double…made one start on the hill and turned in a complete game win allowing two earned runs while striking out 12 and walking just one batter…his GPA of 3.938 is fourth in his class of 302…academic average is 94.563 and his total average is 95.4. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: A definite two-way guy and Baseball America has him listed as one of just two true two-way players going into college baseball. He is just an incredible player with a long list of credentials and on paper the best player we brought in this recruiting class. He has topped out at 94 MPH. We love those South Georgia players. If Buster gets here, he will be remembered just like those other South Georgia players J.D. and Stephen Drew.
Tallahassee, FL (North Florida Christian)
Projected by Baseball America and Perfect Game as a professional baseball prospect…invited to East Coast Professional Baseball Showcase…attended Florida Diamond Club Professional Showcase…All-Big Bend football and baseball and a four-year letter winner in both sports…four-year starter at short for Tallahassee’s NFC…batted .407 with three homers, 20 RBI and 41 runs scored from the leadoff position in 2004…played for Team Florida USA this past summer…made all defensive team with the 15-and-under team in Babe Ruth baseball advancing to the semifinals…wide receiver on NFC’s football team…senior Vice President of Student Body…officer with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Another local kid who plays for Mike Posey at NFC. He is a very good athlete who plays football as well and is a two-sport letter winner for four years.
Andersen, SC (T.L. Hanna HS)
Named all-region, all-conference and is an all-state candidate as a senior in 2005…hit .397 with two home runs as a junior…has caught for four state champions at the AAU level…won an AAU National Championship with the Diamond Travelers in 2003…hit the game-winning home run in the state championship game that year…played for the 18-U Carolina Spirit last summer…team played in the Perfect Game World Series…in six games he hit .411 with five doubles while leading the team in on base percentage…member of numerous clubs and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Another guy we saw in our camps years ago and followed his career. He grew up a Florida State fan not too far from Clemson.
Niceville, FL (Okaloosa Walton College/Niceville HS)Named second team all conference in 2004 after going 9-4-1 with a 4.81 ERA…pitched 82.3 innings and struck out 74 batters while issuing just 13 walks…at Niceville Senior Tucker was named Class 5A all-state honorable mention after posting an 8-2 record…named first team all-area as a junior and a senior…two-time recipient of the Niceville High’s Outstanding Pitcher Award…went 5-2 with four saves his junior season…President’s List for Academics at Okaloosa Walton College. COACHES’ ASSESMENT: Pitched most of the year injured with a bad knee last year. His fastball has been clocked in the low 90’s and he has an outstanding slider and curveball. He throws his slider at about 78 to 80 MPH and it is a tremendous strikeout pitch for him. He reminds the coaches a little bit of former Seminole Rhett James. He loves to compete and you can see that by the way he pitched all season with the injury, which most likely affected his stats. He is a tremendous guy with a tremendous arm.