TAMPA – The fruits of Jesuit High Schoool’s winning baseball season last year paid off for four seniors when they signed their letters-of-intent to play college ball.
Ricky Caldevilla signed with South Florida. Evan Cannon will play at High Point (N.C.). Ryan McCullers is headed for Middle Tennessee State, and Hunter Van Horn is headed to national powerhouse Louisiana State.
Jesuit coach Richie Warren said there are other players from the championship team who are under the radar of college coaches.
“When you coach at Jesuit you expect things like this,” Warren said. “We’ve been to the state Final Four for four straight years. This time we got it, but we are ready to take another shot at it.”
Jesuit cruised through last season and was ranked among the best baseball teams in the country. Warren said he knows that his kids are committed to college, but big senior years can attract the attention of the professional ranks. Warren said he will meet with parents and advisers as to whether to recommend going to school or going pro.
“Education is something that is guaranteed,” Warren said. “Making it in professional baseball isn’t. We’ve had more than 50 kids play college ball and only one that went pro right out of school.”
Warren doesn’t only have a star-studded senior class, he also has underclassmen on this year’s team that are committing to big-time schools.
McCullers has a rifle for an arm and, as a catcher, he is likely to be watched closely by major league scouts. He enjoyed his trip to Middle Tennessee State, but, after batting .400 as a junior, he is keeping his options open.
“At this point I am leaning to college, but we’ll see what happens,” McCullers said. “I like the campus and the coaches. Right now I am concentrating on being a senior at Jesuit and trying to repeat last year.”
Caldevilla said he wanted to stay close to home. Born and raised in Tampa, Caldevilla plays outfield and first base. He batted .400 with 34 RBI for the Tigers last season. He also isn’t ruling out going professional if his senior year works out.
“Right now, it’s all about Jesuit,” Caldevilla said. “We kept coming so close in the states and when we finally won it last year, we want another one. We can’t be thinking about all the hype.”
Caldevilla said he knows that major league scouts are watching and he knows when they are out there. He said it will come down to where he thinks he might be slotted in the June draft. In professional baseball, players have several options. They can sign a major league contract right out of high school and expect to spend about four seasons riding buses in the minor leagues. They can sign with a junior college and be eligible for the draft after each season. Signing with a four-year school means that, after playing a game, professional teams are not able to draft them until after the junior year.
So, by signing with USF, Caldevilla can keep his options open until the USF season starts early in 2015.
“If the money is there or there’s a chance to be a top 10th round pick, we’ll see, but all I want to do is have a great season and then I will know more,” he said.