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Heavy Metal Rap Ruthian feats by Florida State's Marshall McDougall went largely unrewarded

March 13, 2000
March 13, 2000

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March 13, 2000

Heavy Metal Rap Ruthian feats by Florida State's Marshall McDougall went largely unrewarded

In the second inning of Florida State's game at Maryland last
May, Seminoles second baseman Marshall McDougall sized up a
fastball from lefthander Jamie Hammond, found it to his liking
and swung. Ping. Gone, over the left-centerfield fence.

This is an article from the March 13, 2000 issue Original Layout

Two innings later, same thing, except it was a curveball, and it
went out at straightaway center. The next four times up, more of
the same. Ping, ping, ping, ping. Gone, gone, gone, gone.

McDougall finished that 26-2 rout with six homers, 16 RBIs and
25 total bases--NCAA records all. "That rivals the 100 points
Wilt Chamberlain scored in one game," says Florida State coach
Mike Martin. "What Marshall did will never be done again unless
they move the fence right behind the infield."

McDougall wound up hitting .419 with 28 homers and 106
RBIs--numbers comparable to those of former Seminole J.D. Drew,
now with the St. Louis Cardinals, in his junior year (.455, 31,
100). McDougall played half of last season at third base, then
was moved to second, yet made only eight errors in 71 total
games. Which makes it all the more puzzling that 798 players
were selected in the June draft before the Boston Red Sox took
him in the 26th round. Still, the disappointment of the draft
didn't keep him from earning College World Series MVP honors,
though Florida State lost the final to Miami.

McDougall slid so far largely because many scouts suspected that
if you took away his aluminum bat and replaced it with a big
league wooden model, his productivity would head south. "He's
going to have to make some adjustments or he's going to have
trouble hitting with the wooden bat," says one scout.

Take away his bat, says a major league scouting director, and
there's not much left. "McDougall's not a 'tools' guy," he says.
"He's got marginal speed, and the consensus is that defense is
something he will have to work twice as hard at just to get by."

When McDougall hit only .248 with one home run last summer in
the Cape Cod League, which uses wooden bats, his performance
lent credence to the theory that he couldn't hit with lumber.
(During a workout at Fenway Park, however, he was one of only
two out of 40 Cape Cod players to hit a ball over the Green
Monster.)

Unimpressed, the Red Sox didn't even offer McDougall a signing
bonus. With little choice, he returned to Tallahassee for his
senior season. "In my 26 years at Florida State that business
with the Red Sox was one of the biggest surprises I've seen,"
says Martin. "You can't have a year like Marshall had last year
and be an average baseball player. This guy's special."

It wasn't McDougall's first confounding draft experience. At
Buchholz High in Gainesville, Fla., he was a pretty good
160-pound infielder who hit all of two homers in his varsity
career. But he played alongside Doug Johnson, who lured plenty
of scouts to Buchholz before deciding to play quarterback at
Florida. As a result, the Chicago White Sox took a 41st-round
flier on Johnson's little teammate. "Nobody even talked to me,"
says McDougall. "I was just drafted one day. Then I never even
heard from them. That was kind of weird."

McDougall chose to enroll at Santa Fe Community College in
Gainesville. "It was the best thing to do at the time, to live
at home with my mom for another year and a half," he says. "She
could cook for me. That was big." Mom's cooking allowed
McDougall, who hardly frequents the weight room, to add 30
pounds. With the bulk came some pop in his bat. After hitting
three homers in his first year at Santa Fe, he hit nine as a
sophomore before last year's power surge at Florida State.

McDougall had every reason to expect that that explosion would
be his ticket to the majors. Before the draft, scouts told him
that he would go between the fourth and 10th rounds. After each
round that he went unselected, McDougall became more bitter.
"After a while I kind of hoped I didn't go," he says. "It was
pointless."

After batting him second most of last season, Martin moved
McDougall to the three hole this year with an eye toward getting
even more production out of him. Says Martin, "This is Marshall
McDougall's team."

The team is doing fine--the Seminoles were 18-2 and No. 1 in the
nation at week's end--but McDougall's numbers (.338, three
homers, 16 RBIs) were not as gaudy as last year's. He admits he
has been pressing a bit, trying to do too much, but he's sure
he'll come around. "I've tripled my home runs every year in
college," he says with a grin. "So I'm on pace to hit 84."

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO
Why were 798 players drafted ahead of the MVP of last year's
College World Series?