Draft or USF baseball? His name is Rock Shoulders
In six seasons in the Big East, USF baseball has had just one player reach double digits in home runs -- Joey Angelberger had 11 in 2008 -- and no Bulls hitter had more than five this spring, but there's a chance a major power bat could be joining the Bulls for next season.
Roderick "Rock" Shoulders, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound slugger from Brandon who played this past season at State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, said Wednesday that he will play for USF in 2012, that is, if he doesn't opt to sign a pro contract after next week's MLB draft.
"I really like the coaches at USF, the new field is awesome, and it's only 15 minutes from my house, so my family can see me play a lot," said Shoulders, who hit 14 home runs and totaled 58 RBIs in 53 games as a freshman for the Manatees this season.
Shoulders hasn't officially signed with USF but said he has the paperwork in hand. He said he doesn't know how high he'll have to be drafted to consider signing -- he was drafted in the 20th round by the Red Sox last year but opted to play one year of junior college to see how much he could improve his draft stock. He's been busy with pro workouts -- on Thursday, he'll work out for the Rays at Tropicana Field, and he's already worked out for the Cardinals, Cubs, Padres and Phillies.
SCF coach Tim Hill said Shoulders led all junior college players in the state of Florida in RBIs, and his 14 home runs ranked 10th nationally among juco players. He played first base and designated hitter this past season and said he would likely play first base at USF. Hill said the chance of him signing a pro contract instead of coming to USF is a "real good possibility," but that he's "in a good situation" with USF as another option if he doesn't get the signing bonus he needs.
USF has already signed a teammate of Shoulders' in right-hander Steven Leasure, who went 4-5 with a 4.76 ERA and will help next spring as the Bulls seek to make up for the loss of several key senior pitchers, including starters Randy Fontanez and Kyle Eastham and closer Kevin Quackenbush.
USF coach Lelo Prado will keep an eye on the draft next week -- junior shortstop Sam Mende and pitcher Jimmy Moran are potential losses to the draft, and it's a near-certainty that signee Jose Fernandez of Alonso will opt for the pro route, as he's projected as a first-round pick.