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FSU's Posey can wait on majors and draft hype

You could understand it if Florida State star Buster Posey were spending more and more of his day scrutinizing the major-league standings and box scores.

He's sure to go in the first five or six picks in Thursday's amateur draft, perhaps No. 1 overall to the Rays, and is billed by some as the next Jason Varitek.

So who wouldn't be a bit consumed by the possibilities?

Buster Posey, for one.

"I'm obviously extremely excited about it," said the junior catcher, "but to be quite honest with you, I'm just as excited about making a run to Omaha with all my teammates."

You see, Posey is the antithesis of the Me-First athlete. With him, it's first and foremost about "We." He's humble about his accomplishments, both on the field as Collegiate Baseball's national player of the year, and in the classroom as an academic All-American with a 3.8-plus GPA in finance.

Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said character counts, more than ever for his club.

"We're generally pretty accurate on a guy's ability, but I'm a firm believer in what separates the really good ones from the guy who comes up short is his makeup," Harrison said. "Buster's legacy is what kind of guy he is and what kind of teammate he is. We have zero questions about Buster's character."

Statistical proof

You can, of course, begin by checking box scores. Posey, 21, who was FSU's starting shortstop as a freshman then moved to catcher as a sophomore, has had an off-the-charts season.

He entered the NCAA region tournament as the nation's leader in hitting (.467), on-base percentage (.567) and slugging percentage (.864) and among the leaders in four other categories.

"I don't know if it's been anything more than just maturing physically and as a baseball player in general," the right-handed hitter said of the improvement at the plate from a year ago when he hit .382. "I'm more comfortable as a catcher and I just understand the game better."

He proved his worth again Sunday, hitting four home runs in two victories as FSU stayed alive in the NCAA Tournament.

Posey, 6 feet 2, 200 pounds, also has uncommon versatility. He played every field position in a game against Savannah State last month and has a rocket right arm. Besides throwing out 22 runners, he entered region play with six saves in eight relief appearances, a 0.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. He won the ACC and Collegiate Baseball's top individual honors and is up for the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy (both for national player of the year) and Johnny Bench Award (for top catcher).

"I go back to reports when he was a high school player (in Georgia) and the one thing that sticks out is he's a good baseball player," Harrison said. "…He's continued to get better."

A leader

If you ask teammates or coaches for their best Posey story, you're more likely to hear about something that has little to do with his play, but who he is.

Director of strength and conditioning Jon Jost offers this: The morning of a scheduled exhibition against the Phillies in Clearwater in February, the Seminoles began trickling into the hotel dining area for breakfast. Posey walked past a table where senior outfielder Jack Rye sat, past one where senior first baseman Dennis Guinn sat, past one where the other "stars" were.

He plopped down with a student manager/bullpen catcher, who was by himself.

"In 20 years of being involved in college athletics, I have never seen anybody who has the leadership qualities that Buster does," Jost said.

Said FSU coach Mike Martin: "I've had some great players and some outstanding men. I will not say he is the best that I've ever coached, but he's right up there. And when you look at everything, the whole package, there's nobody in front of Buster Posey. That young man is special."

FSU's Posey can wait on majors and draft hype 06/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2008 12:04am]
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