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MLB goes after FSU 2016 baseball recruits

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Florida State baseball head coach Mike Martin and his staff put together a top five or six recruiting class for 2016. The Seminoles received commitments from five of the nation’s top 100 players to join an already young team for the 2017 season.

Unfortunately for the Seminoles, this is a good news/bad news story.

Day one of the Major League Baseball Draft saw three of FSU’s commitments drafted in the first round. Instead of playing before noisy crowds at Dick Howser Stadium, this trio could soon be performing in the minor leagues of professional baseball.

There is an upside for Rays’ fans. Third baseman Joshua Lowe of Marietta, Ga. was the 13th player taken overall. Perhaps the next Evan Longoria is on the way.

Tall right hander Forrest Whitley was taken No. 17 overall by the Houston Astros. A native of San Antonio, the idea of eventually playing close to home may be appealing to Whitley.

One of the surprises of the first round was provided by the Texas Rangers when they took left handed pitcher Cole Ragans from Tallahassee’s North Florida Christian. Ragans was the 30th player selected at the tail end of the first round.

Another Florida State commitment thought to have a chance to be drafted in the first round was shortstop Drew Mendoza of Lake Minneola. The first and second round came and went without Mendoza hearing his name called.

This does not mean any or all of these players will sign professional contracts. The higher the selection, the higher the signing bonus thereby tilting the decision-making process more toward the pros.

The selection of a player agent is highly crucial in getting players signed. Some agents, such as the legendary Scott Boras (who once played professional baseball with the St. Petersburg Cardinals), squeeze every penny out of a major league organization.

Drafted players often enroll in college when an agreement on a contract and signing bonus becomes unattainable. While wishing the best for these young players, Martin and the Seminoles would not scream if the latter scenario turned out to be the case.

Martin received some good news late Thursday. Mendoza announced he would attend FSU after not being drafted in the top two rounds. He was said to be seeking a $3.5 million signing bonus.

Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan and Miami’s Jim Morris had good recruiting classes themselves, but do not share Martin’s dilemma. Neither the Gators nor the Hurricanes had any of their commitments drafted in the first two rounds.

That does not mean they will not lose recruits to professional baseball, but the likelihood decreases with each passing round. The draft resumes on Friday.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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