USF baseball welcomes 16 newcomers for 2012
It's rare to have such a real drought of newsy things to post on the blog -- lots of questions, just not a lot of answers, with USF football coaches on vacation this week. I do want to catch up on baseball, since USF was kind enough to give us a list of the 15 newcomers who started classes with the summer B semester last week. (Alas, couldn't get the same on football.)
We've mentioned most of these in some form or another -- six of them were among the signees USF announced way back in December: Dunedin right-hander Mikey Clarkson, Longwood outfielder Austin Lueck, Bartow IF/OF Buddy Putnam, Plant righty Max Rowe (who is 6-foot-6), New Smyrna Beach catcher Blake Sydeski and Leesburg infielder Kyle Teaf. And there's junior college slugger Roderick "Rock" Shoulders, who still hasn't made a final decision on a contract offer from the Cubs but is taking summer classes with the intent of playing with the Bulls in the spring.
One common element is an interest in size in the pitchers -- Lelo Prado and his staff want to find another Andrew Barbosa, the lanky lefty who walked into USF's baseball offices as a walk-on and became one of the Big East's best pitchers in 2010. Barbosa is recovering from Tommy John surgery that cost him almost all of this past season, but coaches are optimistic of him being back to full strength for 2012.
That leaves nine more names, some of which we've reported previously, like King righty Devin Smith and Orlando outfielder Jordan Strittmatter (who was ranked among Florida's top 100 draft prospects by Baseball America). Then there's Joe Adel, a 6-foot-7 lefty from Gainesville's Buchholz High -- read a good story about him here. There's a pair of walk-ons from Tampa Catholic in outfielder Cameron Alford and infielder Nick Alfonso, both honorable mentions in the Times' all-county selections for Hillsborough County.
There's Zach Gilcrease, an infielder from Cambridge Christian who made the Bay Conference all-area team, and walk-on Daniel Hancock, a 6-4 lefty from South Dade in Miami. And perhaps the most intriguing on the list is a 6-foot-6 pitcher named Diego Herrera Rapalino -- he comes to USF from Colombia, discovered by Bulls coaches only because his sister is a professor at USF. He's rail-thin (perhaps as light as 160 pounds) but given a year or two in the weight room, could be a player to keep an eye on.
The Bulls will add another newcomer in August when junior college pitcher Steven Leasure enrolls, and Prado estimates he'll have 50 players participating in fall baseball, with a ton of walk-ons interested in the chance to play in USF's new ballpark. The roster cuts in January will be the toughest Prado has had to make, but it should give him better depth than the Bulls offered in a disappointing 2011 season.