Jameis Winston, Florida State's prized quarterback signee for the class of 2012 and arguably the No. 1 prospect in the country at his position, was taken Tuesday in the 15th Round (No. 486 overall) of the baseball draft by the Texas Rangers.
FSU has a history of losing signal callers to America's pastime, as Chris Weinke was a second-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1990 and Joe Mauer went No. 1 to the Minnesota Twins in 2001. While Weinke never made it to the majors, returned to football and eventually led the Seminoles to a national championship in 1999, Mauer obviously made the right decision since he's a lifetime .322 hitter in the big leagues and was MVP of the American League in 2009.
However, don't expect Winston, who was a switch-hitting outfielder and also pitched for Hueytown (AL) High School, to follow in Mauer's footsteps by turning down a chance to ever wear Garnet and Gold. The 6-4, 190-pounder reportedly had a bit of a disappointing senior year and didn't develop into the first rounder -- and soon-to-be millionaire -- some scouts expected him to be, not to mention the fact that many teams weren't sure if he had more potential as a hitter or a pitcher. With his future seemingly brighter in football, he dropped precipitously in the draft in part because franchises can't afford to waste precious selections on players they can't sign.
Here is a snapshot of Winston's scouting report, courtesy of MLB.com:
"A two-sport standout in high school, the biggest immediate question facing teams interested in his tools is whether or not he can be lured from quarterbacking at Florida State to play baseball full-time as a pro. Winston does bring a football mentality to the baseball field, and he has some pretty good skills to go along with that aggressive demeanor. A switch hitter, he's a spray hitter who shows more power potential from the right side. Winston is an average runner who is better under way, though he has enough wheels to have above-average range as a defender. He has more than enough arm -- he also pitches -- in the outfield and can play any position out there. More than anything, Winston just needs to play to improve his instincts and baseball IQ. Whether he chooses that path after the draft should be an interesting storyline to watch."
There is little uncertainty about what he can do pigskin-wise, as Winston has a rocket arm, elusive legs and all the intangibles necessary to be special at the next level.
According to Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons, Winston has "nice pocket presence" and "makes both quick and good decisions" with the football. On top of all that, he is a leader since "players listen to him" and "he has a lot of poise," which of course is mandatory at the game's most important position.
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The 'Noles are set at QB heading into the campaign, as starter E.J. Manuel is now a fifth-year senior with Heisman Trophy-caliber skills, backup Clint Trickett got valuable experience a season ago and third stringer Jacob Coker was a highly-rated recruit himself in 2010. There should be no need for Winston to see action any time soon, so he can redshirt as a freshman, begin to learn coach Jimbo Fisher's intricate offensive scheme and perhaps challenge for the starting job come 2013. While he'll be well behind both Trickett and Coker upon his arrival in Tallahassee, his upside is much more tantalizing since Trickett is not a plus athlete and Coker mostly ran the option as a prepster -- Winston, on the other hand, threw it early, often and with record-setting success.
It remains to be seen if Winston will also play baseball for the Seminoles, but coach Mike Martin said shortly after signing day in February that he planned to give him a look in the outfield and on the pitcher's mound.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.