Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Baseball

Former Gulf standout Decker awaits call from draft

Brandon Decker, right, holds the South Florida Community College record for home runs after hitting 20 this past year.

Special to the Times

Brandon Decker, right, holds the South Florida Community College record for home runs after hitting 20 this past year.

On a junior college campus in rural central Florida, hours from the nearest coastline or metropolitan skyline, hitting and hygiene converged this spring to transform Brandon Decker's baseball career.

"I told my teammates I won't cut my hair the whole season," said Decker, a sophomore leftfielder at South Florida Community College in Avon Park. "I guess it worked. I cut it as soon as the season ended because it was getting pretty crazy."

By the time shears met shaggy, Decker had posted monstrous numbers. In 52 games, the 2006 Gulf graduate hit .404 with a school-record 20 home runs and collected 67 RBIs. The homer total, according to National Junior College Athletic Association stats, ranked seventh nationally. The RBI total ranked 24th.

"Honestly, I think it was just (SFCC) coach (Rick) Hitt," said Decker, a first-year transfer who hit only four homers as a freshman at Embry-Riddle. "He let me do my thing and I felt a lot more comfortable."

Today, he may feel euphoric.

Decker, who has worked out for three big-league clubs (Cardinals, Tigers, Blue Jays), will be at his Holiday home tracking Major League Baseball's first-year player draft.

"I think his chances are very good of getting selected," said Hitt, who has watched 24 of his players sign pro contracts the past eight years. "Whether or not he gets selected in the slot he and his family want to see him get selected obviously is the question."

Baseball America lists Decker as the state's 85th-best prospect. If he's selected high enough, and offered an acceptable amount to sign, the Florida Gulf Coast signee will forgo his final two years of college ball.

"I'm pretty excited," said Decker, who hit a school-record 10 homers as a Gulf senior. "I think I'll go in, like, the top 10 rounds hopefully."

Buoying his aspirations are what he described as encouraging workouts with the three pro clubs, in three cities. The highlight: a homer in a 12-inning game against a Cardinals extended spring-training club in Jupiter. But the last several months in Avon Park represent the glaring jewel of his resume.

Though SFCC's field is a hitter's park stretching only 320 feet down the lines, Hitt notes 11 of Decker's homers were hit on the road. Additionally, Hitt says, Decker drew 22 walks and was hit by an SFCC-record 27 pitches.

At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Decker is 30 pounds heavier than when he graduated high school, a byproduct of SFCC's intense fall weight-training program. Hitt said he believes Decker ultimately could put on 20 or so more.

That number could fluctuate depending on how much hair Decker's carrying.

"It never really grew to the point where he needed to cut it," Hitt said. "I think he really buzzed it up really good at the beginning of the year."

Turns out, Decker may have just been grooming himself for the next level.

"It's one of those years players would live to have," Hitt said. "And he had it."

Joey Knight can be reached at (813) 226-3350 or jknight@sptimes.com.

On the Web

Want to find out how local players fare in

the draft? Check out blogs.tampabay.com/preps/ for updates.

Former Gulf standout Decker awaits call from draft 06/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2008 2:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What Wilson Ramos will mean to the Rays lineup, pitching

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer was stumping for all-star votes for Corey Dickerson during a live interview Wednesday morning on the MLB Network when he lifted the right earpiece on his headset and said, "I hear a buffalo coming."

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos (40) waves to the crowd after being presented with the Silver Slugger Award before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
  2. Jameis Winston as 2017 NFL MVP? 66-to-1 odds from Vegas

    Blogs

    Could Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston be an NFL MVP in 2017? It's certainly unlikely, but the sports book at Bovada has opening lines with Winston getting 66-to-1 odds, worse than 22 other players across the league.

    Bucs fans would be very happy if quarterback Jameis WInston can put himself into consideration for the NFL MVP award during the 2017 season.
  3. Deon Cain, Duke Dawson, Derrick Nnadi among SI's top 100 players

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's countdown of the top 100 players in college football continues with three more local players.

  4. The greatest coaches never to win it all

    College

    As foregone conclusions go, some things are approaching the death-and-taxes stratosphere: summer humidity in Florida, a Kardashian seeking attention, and Mike Martin coming up short in Omaha.

    Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]
  5. Bucs fans ranked 25th in study of NFL teams

    Blogs

    The Bucs and their fans are ranked 25th in an Emory University study of NFL teams' "fan base and branding analysis."

    Bucs fans were on their feet for this fourth-quarter play at home against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium in 2015.