Same Game, New Team, No Year Off

College baseball's biggest impact transfers in 2007

Jan. 28, 2007


By Douglas Kroll


Doug Kroll is an editor for, focusing on baseball.
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It really doesn't make too much sense.  In fact, many compare college baseball to its Major League brother because they have something in common besides the ball they play with. 


An athlete in need of a change of scenery is nothing new at the collegiate level in any sport.  In football, transfers are as normal as the game itself, except they come with a price to pay.  Moving from one Division I school to another will result in having to sit out a year.  The same goes for basketball. 


Baseball does not have a rule in place that would keep a player out of the lineup for a year if he decides to pick up and move.  This has led to many coaches comparing their sport to Major League Baseball's free agency, and for good reason. 


Take the most recent case of outfielder Jarred Bogany who played his freshman year at LSU in 2006.  Bogany played in 49 games including 42 starts in his only season in Baton Rouge and hit .319.  Just last month the Houston native was granted his release from head coach Paul Mainieri and he has now settled with Arizona State, where he is on the roster and expected to contribute in 2007 for the Sun Devils.  In some ways, it's worse than free agency.  But it is easy to differentiate which transfers seem fair and which one's don't.


There are over 115 players who have changed jerseys from one Division I school to another since the last pitch of the 2006 season.  One of the biggest names is Oklahoma State third-baseman Matt Mangini.  The Cowboys reeled in quite a catch with Mangini, after he was one of the best hitters in the ACC at N.C. State a year ago. 


The junior hit .343 for the Wolfpack and led the team with 60 RBI.  He also started 60 of the team's 63 games.  There are a lot of questions that come to mind in Mangini's case as to why he would head out of Raleigh.  From an outside perspective, he seemed to be in a good situation, playing well for a good team.  Unfortunately for N.C. State head coach Elliot Avent, things weren't as rosy as they seemed.


"[Mangini] came in his freshman year and expected to play right away," Avent said.  "He's a good player but unfortunately for him and fortunately for N.C. State, Matt Devine beat him out and played all Spring, so that's when he really started to think about his options, because the kid wanted to play.  He mulled it over several times after his freshman year and decided to stay, and thinks worked out well for him.  But unfortunately at the end last year we had a freshman playing really well defensively that would go in late and play, and I don't think that sat well with him."


Mangini has found a new home with the Cowboys, and head coach Frank Anderson is excited to have him aboard.


"Well, he's a good player, he had a great summer," Anderson said.  "He fits in well with our kids, and has made the transition.  We expect him to have a good year."


Even with snagging one of the best pure hitters in the game, Anderson's feelings about the transfer rule hasn't changed from what it was before Mangini arrived on campus.  Anderson feels the rule has to be changed.


"Obviously I've had some good transfers," Anderson aid.  "I wish that we had the situation like football and basketball because it is too easy.  Instead of a kid coming in and working into the lineup, as a sophomore or a junior, people want instant gratification and start right away or play a lot right away instead of fighting for a job.  It's just so easy to transfer and get out.  I would like to see us go with the same rule as there is in the other sports."


Anderson's counterpart at N.C. State agrees, but like Anderson, Avent felt that way before this summer.


"I've been a big proponent of changing it for years, since it first started," Avent said.  "It started rapidly, and you'd go and play somebody and say `Wow, I don't remember that guy last year.'  Whether it's their three-hole hitter or their closer, you'd end up saying `Wow, where'd they get him from?' 


Even though many coaches are against the idea of transfers, they've had to conform to the idea and accept it as a reality.


"We used to not even talk to a transfer," Avent said.  "If they called we'd just say we weren't interested, because we have long thought here at N.C. State that it's not good for college baseball.  I've been a proponent against it for a long time, but after playing against so many transfers for so many years within the conference, and out of conference, and it getting so out of hand with other teams recruiting other team's players, that I made a point that I wouldn't get into the recruiting visits, but I wasn't going to turn my head to it either when it's such a lucrative business for so many schools."


On the other side of the spectrum, away from the Division I to Division I transfers, is a different type of free agency that is the one which makes sense to everyone involved.  The top pitcher in collegiate baseball to change jerseys in 2007 didn't pitch for a big-time program last season.  Charlie Furbush pitched for St. Joseph's of Maine, a Division III school in Standish, Maine for the last two seasons, but this year he will try and make the transition into the front of the LSU rotation.


Furbush put up some of the best numbers in the nation a year ago. The junior went 10-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 20 appearances, with five complete games in eight starts, and four saves.  Talk about your do it all guy, Furbush also hit .286 with a homerun and 18 RBI. 


The New England pitcher of the year in 2006 blossomed while playing with the Monks, in addition to back-to-back summers in the Cape Cod League where he got a taste of some of the best collegiate competition there is.  It was after impressing the scouts and other coaches during the summer that Furbush knew it would be time to face that type of top competition day in and day out. 


"It was after my first season [at St. Joseph's]," Furbush said.  "My coach at St. Joe's knew that some colleges were going to start talking to me, and of course they did, and I was really interested at that time."


His coach at St. Joseph's, Will Sanborn, knew it was only a matter of time before Furbush took his game to another level.


"The interesting thing here is, the good news is that Charlie handled it really well all along," Sanborn said.  "I knew even after his first year in the Cape Cod League that he was entertaining those ideas, and he kept me posted as we went along.  I think he handled it the right way as far as with people here at St. Joseph's."


Bringing up the Cape Cod League, or other summer leagues for that matter, with coaches is sometimes a bitter topic.  Some feel that it is where many coaches start the process of recruiting players that are already with collegiate teams.  LSU's first-year coach, Paul Mainieri, even felt awkward scouting Furbush during the summer, despite the fact Furbush had made it clear that he was looking to move up to Division I.


"I felt very awkward having us go up to see Charlie [Furbush], because I didn't want people to look at the LSU coaches and say `Oh there's LSU hovering around trying to see who they can steal,'" Mainieri said.  "We weren't trying to steal anybody, because this was a different situation, I really felt."


Furbush is expected to contribute immediately to the Tigers' starting rotation, and even could be the Friday night starter.  His development of a change-up will be key says Mainieri, to his success at this level.  But after two summers facing the best in the nation, Furbush isn't worried about the transition.


"It's obviously had its challenges," Furbush said.  "But the Cape definitely prepared me.  Without the Cape I wouldn't be here.  Just playing against those players everyday, it was just a really great experience."


It makes sense that Furbush should be allowed to move up with out being penalized.  Mangini and Bogany, it can be seen easily why so many coaches feel that the process is just way too easy.  Not to mention the penalty schools face with its Academic Progress Rate (APR).  Mainieri feels that is one of the worst parts about it.


"I think the reason that it's going to be changed is the effect that it has on the school's APR," Mainieri said.  "I don't think it's very fair, that a school that did everything correctly, that worked with that young man and helped him academically and gave him the support, all the things they are supposed to do, and then the boy decides to change schools, simply because he didn't like it there, or he felt like he wasn't playing enough or didn't have a big enough scholarship.


Many feel the NCAA will institute a rule like in football or basketball eventually, but until then, we will keep seeing `free agents' across the nation, just trying to find the right situation or lineup they can thrive in.

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