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June 5, 2012

Decision to return to FSU pays off for Ramsey

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When James Ramsey made his decision to turn down an offer from the Minnesota Twins to turn pro last August, many questioned that decision.

Last season Ramsey was selected in the 22nd round, going 688th overall to the Twins. And after a stellar summer in the prestigious wood-bat Cape Cod Baseball League, he was offered close to second round money to forgo his senior season. But Ramsey felt like he wanted to return to Tallahassee for one more season.

The decision turned out to be the right one as he was selected in the first round this time, going 23rd overall to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.

"I was called every name in the book. Fool, idiot, stupid, I'll leave some of them out," Ramsey said. "But when you have the Lord by your side it's easy to live a life that's against the grain. So I think that sitting in (the tradition) room with scouts all fall saying 'James why did you go back? You're a finance guy you understand it.' No one in my inner circle lost faith in me. No one in the clubhouse lost faith in me. My coaches believed in what I could do, that I could be a game changer in this industry. It worked out and I'm just very thankful for it."

Ramsey certainly has been a game changer for FSU this season, hitting .385 with 13 home runs and 55 RBI in 61 games this season.

But his senior season could also be one that changes how collegiate juniors view the draft.

Thanks to the new draft cap teams are more willing to draft players they know they can sign earlier in draft because of a new wrinkle where if a player taken in the top 10 rounds doesn't sign, the designated "slot" price for that pick counts against a MLB team's overall assigned pool of money. Players returning to school for their senior seasons was once an anomaly, but now it could become a common occurrence.

"They set the rules so they're more favorable for guys coming back for their senior years," said FSU assistant coach Mike Martin Jr. "Finally. In the NBA and the NFL they never stuck it to seniors and now they're not going to do in the MLB and that's the way it should be."

"It's definitely intriguing," said draft-eligible junior second baseman Devon Travis. "For me personally this isn't a place that I ever want to leave. ... I'd definitely love to come back, we'll see how it works out. If something like that, if there's even a one percent chance of something like (moving up significantly in the draft) happening then any of us guys that are going to have to make a decision I think that everyone would come back in a heartbeat. It's something incredible and it's not going to just affect guys on this team like me, but guys across the nation are going to look at this and think if Ramsey can do this, then why not?"

Former Seminole First-Round Picks
2012 James Ramsey OF St. Louis (23rd)
2011 Sean Gilmartin P Atlanta (28th)
2008 Buster Posey C San Francisco (5th)
2004 Stephen Drew SS Arizona (15th)
2001 Chris Smith P Baltimore (7th)
2001 John-Ford Griffin OF New York Yankees (23rd)
1999 Nick Stocks P St. Louis (36th)
1998 J.D. Drew OF St. Louis (5th)
1997 J.D. Drew OF Philadelphia (2nd)
1995 Jonathan Johnson P Texas (7th)
1995 David Yocum P Los Angeles Dodgers (20th)
1994 Paul Wilson P Cincinnati (1st)
1993 John Wasdin P Oakland (25th)
1992 Kenny Felder OF Milwaukee (12th)
1992 Chris Roberts P New York Mets (18th)
1991 Eduardo Perez 1B California (17th)
1986 Luis Alicea 2B St. Louis (23rd)
1982 Jeff Ledbetter 1B Boston (26th)
1977 Terry Kennedy C St. Louis (6th)
1966 Jim Lyttle OF New York Yankees (10th)
Ramsey's whole career at FSU has been a bit unconventional. The Alpharetta, Ga. native signed with the Seminoles as an infielder out of Wesleyan High school but moved to right field as a freshman in order to get on the field sooner.

After starting three seasons in right, Ramsey slid over to center field for his senior campaign.

"It's special," Martin Jr. said of Ramsey's transformation. "It's hard to really describe when a guy comes in and basically runs the wrong way after fly balls, he runs hard into the wall but the ball is a long way away. He swings hard and misses a lot, but he has incredible personality, work ethic, and for it to come to a head and for him to be picked where he's picked I got teary eyed."

Ramsey said he didn't make the decision to return for his senior season to improve his monetary value, or to show that he was a first-round talent. The senior said he wanted just one more shot at bringing FSU its first national title.

The journey to continue that task will continue for Ramsey this weekend as the Seminoles host Stanford for the NCAA Super Regionals beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

"For me it was never a dollar figure that I was looking for that would I would tell myself I got it right. It was never necessarily a first-round, second-round mark that said I got it right," said Ramsey. "I came here to do a lot of things and one of those is to win a national championship so my work here is not done. As far as me I'm and intrinsically motivated person. I was never looking to prove anyone wrong. I'm doing it because I'm trying to reach my potential, I'm trying to make my teammates better around me. For me the weeks that I came back, all the things that I've been able to do off the field have really shown me that my reward has been great."



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