Today is the 25th birthday of one of the best college baseball players of all time and current star catcher for the San Francisco Giants, Buster Posey. Many people may remember Posey from the frightening home-plate collision he was injured in last May or for being named 2010 National League Rookie of the Year during a season where he led the Giants to their first World Series title since 1954, but I had the fortune of watching his collegiate career in the garnet and gold of Florida State from 2006-2008. Buster Posey is one of the most exciting players in the game today as well as one of the best hitters I’ve seen at any level.
Posey played his 3 year college baseball career for the Seminoles under head coach Mike Martin. He began his career at FSU playing shortstop, starting all 65 games for the Seminoles, hitting .346 and being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. During the first summer of his collegiate career he started at shortstop of the 2006 Cape Cod Baseball League team championship team the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox as well. As a sophomore, at the suggestion of assistant coach Mike Martin Jr., Posey moved from shortstop to catcher, in a move designed to fill an immediate void in the FSU lineup and improve Posey’s pro potential. Mike Martin Jr. himself was an infielder back in his playing days and he made the transition to catcher in junior college in order to play for his father at FSU, and when approached with the idea Posey was open-minded knowing that it would help the team. That season, in 2007, he was named All-ACC first team, first team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, and a finalist the Johnny Bench award becoming the first sophomore student-athlete to be named a finalist for that award. He batted .382 with three runs and 65 RBI’s that season and played more than capable defense behind the dish. At the end of the season he also went back to the Cape League and won another championship for the Red Sox, this time starting as the catcher on the 2007 championship squad.
The 2008 season for Posey was one of the most memorable seasons I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Posey, as a draft-eligible junior, hit .463 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs and was named the 2008 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year. He also won the Johnny Bench award, the Dick Howser Trophy, and on July 16, 2008 he won the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best player in amateur baseball. In 2008 he also led the Seminoles to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska for the first time since 2000. On May 12, 2008 he also was given the opportunity to show his versatility in a game against Savannah State where he was allowed to play all 9 positions, and he even struck out the two batters he faced in that game (which was not surprising given that Buster also went 6-6 in save opportunities during the 2008 season).
After his amazing 2008 campaign, Posey was drafted fifth overall by San Francisco Giants in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft. He was signed shortly before the deadline for draftees and was given a $6.2 million dollar bonus, the largest up front signing bonus in Major League Baseball at the time. He was invited to the Giants 2009 spring training, after which he was assigned to their class “A” San Jose affiliate. On July 13, 2009 he was promoted to the Major League club’s “AAA” affiliate the Fresno Grizzlies, and after Giant’s starting catcher Bengie Molina was injured, Posey was called up to the Major Leagues for the first time on September 2, 2009. He made his debut 9 days later in a pinch hit appearance, and in a game on September 19 against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers he got his first career big league hit. Posey began the 2010 season back down in “AAA” San Jose, but on May 29, 2010 he was called up to the Major Leagues for good and started at first base against the Arizona Diamondbacks and went 3-4 with 3 RBI’s. Over the course of the 2010 season Posey primarily first base through the end of June then switched to catcher again for the remainder of the year. He finished the season hitting .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI’s and was a key player during the Giants run to the 2010 World Series championship.
It is early in Buster Posey’s professional career and it is unknown how the gruesome injury to his leg and ankle suffered in 2011 will impact his future but I will continue to root for Buster for the duration of his career. He is already a World Series Champion and a Rookie of the Year recipient and I have no doubt that the accolades will not stop there. His .294 batting average with 22 home runs and 88 RBI’s at the Major League level is not too shabby for a young catcher and with his work ethic and love of the game I can only see him improving as he gains more experience in the game. He is an exciting player to watch and one of the few players who can make me drop whatever I’m doing to watch an at-bat and I am looking forward to see him dominate pitchers for many years to come.
Happy birthday, Buster!