Florida State pitcher Marc LaMacchia signed with the Texas Rangers Monday morning, dealing a last-minute blow to the Seminoles' vaunted pitching staff.
LaMacchia, a 21st-round selection by the Rangers in last June's amateur draft, was expected to return as the Seminoles' ace after missing most of last season following elbow surgery.
LaMacchia told The Tallahassee Democrat the Rangers had offered him a $200,000 signing bonus, short of the mid-$300,000 range he had eyed. The Rangers had until the start of classes today to sign LaMacchia, of Clearwater.
LaMacchia informed FSU coaches of his decision today, saying he agreed to the contract at 3 a.m. Ironically, LaMacchia will remain enrolled at FSU this fall and continue his rehabilitation with the Seminoles.
FSU coach Mike Martin told TheTerritory he was "devastated" by the news.
"It's the biggest shock in my 30 years of coaching," Martin said. "I never dreamed that Marc LaMacchia, a 21st-rounder, would sign. The only thing I think can rival that was losing our No. 1 in December before we opened up in Janaury back in 1975 in Danny O'Brien."
Four Seminoles were taken in the first 10 rounds of the draft and eight overall, including junior pitcher Trent Peterson and junior outfielder Blake Balkcom. Peterson, in fact, was a fifth-round selection by Oakland and reportedly signed for $175,00.
FSU loses eight starters that won 54 games and reached the super regional last season, losing to Texas at Dick Howser Stadium.
The group includes the weekend starting rotation. Reliever Daniel Hodges also departs following his senior year. The departing players accounted for 38 wins on the mound, 12 saves and 271 of FSU's 509 RBIs. LaMacchia, meanwhile, went 11-2 in 2002 and had a career record of 17-2.
LaMacchia also said his rehab from Tommy John surgery was going well, lightly tossing three times a week. FSU coaches and players expected LaMacchia to be in a Seminole uniform this season. Returning and incoming players are expected to start fall practice with four-man drills later this week.
"We are trying to sort it out now," FSU assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr., said Monday morning.
Right-hander Rhett James should be the frontrunner to anchor the Seminoles' staff this season.
James, a junior-college transfer from Pensacola who was an effective reliever for FSU in 2003, enjoyed a superb summer in the Cape Cod League. His team (Orleans Cardinals) won the league championship and he won the most games of any pitcher, finishing 7-1 with 55 strikeouts in 51 innings.
Other pitchers who are expected to be in the mix include sophomore Mark Sauls, sophomore Hunter Jones and sophomore Glen Simon.