They were the anchor on the State College of Florida pitching staff this past season.
Now, Alex Burgos and Josh Lucas are parlaying their successful college stints into the professional arena.
Lucas signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and reported to the club’s rookie league affiliate in Jupiter in June.
He was grabbed in the 21st round at No. 649.
Lucas said he got top-10 round money for signing, but terms of the deal were not disclosed.
That and the uncertainty of getting injured were some of the reasons for him deciding to jump to the pros and forgo his sophomore year at SCF.
“I just couldn’t turn that down,” Lucas said over the phone. “Me and my family decided that it would be better for me to skip out on another year of school and go start my career.”
Lucas, a starting pitcher, was drafted out of Lakeland High but opted the junior college route.
He found himself posting a 4.26 ERA to go with a 5-4 mark for the Manatees.
Lucas, however, did fan 57 batters in his 69 2/3 innings pitched.
And he’s learning the ropes in Jupiter already.
“The first time I threw inside, I was kind of hesitant because of that fact that they can turn on it with an aluminum bat,” Lucas said “... but if you come inside (with wood) you can definitely shatter a bat and just get a weak ground ball.”
Lucas said the decision was helped with his advisor-turned-agent Gary Sheffield.
Yes, the same Gary Sheffield that played in the major leagues for a variety of teams, including the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins.
Lucas said Sheffield came to see one of his former teammates at Lakeland, and that’s where he first met Sheffield.
“I found out he was getting into agency and all that,” Lucas said. “And one of my old high school coaches called and said he was interested in representing me.”
While Lucas made up his mind about a week after the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Burgos didn’t sign until just recently.
The left-handed ace dazzled scouts during his sophomore campaign.
He even planned to complete his collegiate career at Florida Southern.
But the Detroit Tigers selected Burgos in the fifth round with the 163rd pick.
Now he’s joining Lucas as a minor league ballplayer.
“To be able to have our guys continue to move on,” said SCF assistant coach Tim Hill II, who helps with recruiting. “And going pro ball, and then the guys that are signing with universities, that’s nice because that’s what our program is supposed to be doing ... and I’m excited for Alex and Josh.”
Burgos was not able to be reached for comment.
However, he did point to current Cardinals prospect, Jonathan Rodriguez, as the influence on his turnaround from freshman to sophomore years throughout last season.
The numbers speak for themselves.
He went 13-1 with a 1.41 ERA in leading SCF to the JUCO World Series.
Burgos baffled hitters to the tune of 109 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings.
In contrast, he struggled with consistency in posting a 6.30 ERA in his freshman year.
Yet Burgos turned it around with that stellar sophomore campaign that’s parlayed into a pro career with the Tigers.