TALLAHASSEE – James Ramsey sat down in a crowded room last August and explained his decision.
How he loved Florida State. How he also wanted to play professional baseball.
He was a junior outfielder and could come back to finish up a degree in Finance, enjoy his senior season and try to again reach the College World Series. Or he could sign a six-figure deal that the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the 22nd round, were offering and start his career in the minors.
“After weeks of prayer, discussions, and reflections, I came to the conclusion that I would return for my final year at FSU,” Ramsey said that day. “I feel like either decision could have been the right one.
“Obviously, this was an unbelievably tough decision to make between starting my professional career a year early and returning for my senior season.”
But sitting inside Dick Howser Stadium on Sunday night, just minutes after FSU had defeated Samford 5-2 to win the Tallahassee Regional, Ramsey knew that he had made the right decision.
“I’ve been rewarded for it in many other ways, other than just baseball,” Ramsey said. “The Lord is good. He is just. I’ve always been trying to trust in His plan. … It worked out well for me baseball-wise.”
A junior is draft-eligible but can return to college baseball for his senior season to improve his draft position. But as a senior he also lost his leverage when it comes to negotiating a deal with the team that picked him.
That likely won’t be much of a concern this year. The Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year was selected in the first round on Monday night by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 23rd overall pick – more than 650 spots ahead of where he went in 2011. His deal this time, given the slot structure of the MLB draft, will reach well into seven figures.
Ramsey’s college resume is impressive. He hit .364 with 10 home runs and 67 RBIs in 2011, reaching base in all but just two games.
And he found a way to improve this season, hitting .385 with 13 home runs, 11 doubles and 55 RBIs. His on-base percentage of .520 ranks him third in Division I, and he’s fourth nationally with 72 runs scored – a little over a run per game in 2012.
Ramsey also moved over from right field to center and did not have an error in 61 games.
His value often goes beyond the numbers, too. Ramsey is a veteran leader, a player who has taken a number of the freshman Seminoles under his wing.
“He’s awesome at helping me with pointers in the outfield,” freshman Josh Delph said.
Ramsey said in August that the decision could have worked out either way. But he now has a degree and is enjoying his best season in Tallahassee. And FSU is again feeling confident after sweeping through its regional, in which Ramsey was named the Most Outstanding Player after hitting .444 with six RBIs and three runs scored.
And FSU is heading into a best-of-three Super Regional this weekend against visiting Stanford, with the Seminoles just two wins away from a trip to the College World Series.
It all means that Ramsey can enjoy another weekend in Tallahassee before moving on to professional baseball.