New Castle News

June 26, 2012

Hold that, Tigers! Sansone bypasses pro baseball for Florida State

Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The decision is in for recent Neshannock High graduate John Sansone.

Sansone, a baseball standout for the Lancers who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, has elected to bypass the professional ranks and attend Florida State University.

Prior to this past baseball season, Sansone signed a national letter-of-intent to continue his baseball career at Florida State. But the Tigers drafted Sansone, a shortstop, on June 6 in the 39th round of the First-Year Player Draft. He was taken with the 1,204th overall pick.

“It was a pretty hard decision to make,” Sansone said. “With me being drafted in such a late round, that made it easier to go to college than go to the pros.”

Sansone, a son of John Jr. and Mirella Sansone, said he didn’t receive any offers from the Tigers since he was drafted.

“I’m real happy with the decision. I’d be happy either way,” Sansone said.

Sansone is leaving today for Tallahassee for a three-day orientation and summer classes start Monday. He batted .597 (40 for 57) with 40 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 12 doubles, six triples and seven home runs this year for the Lancers. All of which were tops in the county. Sansone stole 18 bases as well.

The Seminoles (50-17) reached the College World Series this year, but fell just one win shy of advancing to the finals, losing to Arizona, 10-3. Florida State, coached by Mike Martin, had seven players drafted this season. Four of those players are infielders, which could provide Sansone with immediate playing time.

“(Martin) didn’t make any guarantees or promises,” Sansone said of playing time as a freshman. “I have to do my job and get in the starting lineup.

“I will try to be a shortstop. I can play third base, or second base. I’ll play anywhere as long as I can get on the field.”

Bruce Tanner, a 1980 Neshannock graduate, is a Major League scout for the Tigers and one of the scouts that noticed Sansone. He supports Sansone’s decision.

“I think that’s a smart choice on his part,” Tanner said. “There’s no real money value for him that low in the draft, and to get to go down there and play against top-notch competition at a major university is a huge plus. It’s great baseball.”

Tanner would know. He was drafted late, in the 33rd round by the Chicago Cubs. But he also elected to attend Florida State University. Tanner was drafted again after his playing days with the Seminoles, in the fourth round by the White Sox.

“That’s just a wise choice, especially from a developmental standpoint. And the education, as well,” Tanner said. “He’s a heck of an athlete. It’s a good time to go down there and get some playing time. That would be in his best interest.”

Tanner did acknowledge there will be an adjustment period for Sansone.

“At first, I was really overmatched (at Florida State),” Tanner said. “It took me several weeks to get adjusted because everybody threw so darn hard.

“It does take you by surprise right away. I improved from the time I first went there. He’ll see the improvements, too.”

Sansone will be eligible to be drafted again after his junior season.

“I’m going to work on my strength and speed at Florida State,” Sansone said. “I’d love to be drafted again by the Tigers.”

(Email: rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com).