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BASEBALL // Strong season gets FSU's Drew an invitation

Last summer, the folks who run the U.S. national baseball team didn't think enough of J.D. Drew to invite him to be part of their touring team.

This year, he made sure they couldn't ignore him.

After a strong showing at the fall national team trials, the Florida State University sophomore outfielder tore up the Atlantic Coast Conference competition throughout the season, posting a .390 average, 20 home runs, and 87 RBI heading into the College World Series.

The people at Olympic headquarters noticed. Drew was the fifth outfielder invited to the Olympic training camp, which began last week in Millington, Tenn.

"I never really thought anything about it last year," Drew said. "I came back this year really hoping to get an invitation. I was really looking forward to getting the chance to play on the Olympic team. I was hoping I could catch their eye."

The 20-year-old from Hahira, Ga., did that and more. With power and consistency from the left side of the plate, a steady glove and strong arm in the outfield and surprising speed, Drew seems to have a good chance to make the final 20-man roster and represent the United States when it begins Olympic play next month in his home state.

"That would be a great experience for me," Drew said. "I'll go in with a lot of confidence and try to show them what I can do. I can't go in expecting to make it but I have every intention."

Drew didn't start playing baseball until he was 13. Now he has a chance, according to coach Mike Martin, to be the best player FSU has ever produced.

As a freshman last season, Drew hit .325 and was named to several All-American teams. But he really burst onto the national scene in the College World Series with a 7-for-11 performance with four home runs.

"I don't think we missed him (last year). We knew who he was," Team USA general manager Mike Fiore said. "We made a decision to go with some older players. He still had another year to mature. He made some progress."