Here's the final installment of your questions and the new FIU baseball coach's answers. Plus, a little anecdote on TT from LSU athletic director Skip Bertman, who won five College World Series in 17 years while he was the Tigers head coach. By the way, if you need your recruiting fix you can catch the FIU recruiting story in the Miami Herald on Wednesday.
FIUJM: Can you tell us what your expectations are for your first year at FIU?
TT: We mainly just want to get better everyday. We want to improve learning how to play the game, playing together. I don't necessarily want to say "We want to finish third in the league or we want to get in a regional". We do have expectations amongst our team, but I just want to say right now that improvement is the main thing that we want to get.
24/7-11: Why do you recruit players that you know are going to get drafted and never go to FIU?
TT: That's probably the best question in this whole thing. First of all, you don't really know a year ahead when you're recruiting guys what's going to happen next June [month of baseball draft]. You don't have a crystal ball in front of you to look into the future. Number two, if you are going to get some superstars that are going to take you where you want to go, you have to sign them. If you don't sign the real good ones, then you are going to be an average team at best. You got to have some stars that play for you. I've always been told that you need to have at least three offensive stars and then you got to have good capable college hitters in the other slots. You need three real outstanding weekend pitchers and you need two good closers. It takes 9 or 10 pitchers now. If you are going to play the 56 regular season games, the conference tournament and hopefully into the playoffs you've got to cover over 600 innings of pitching. It literally takes 20 good players to have a good club. You've got to have 11, 12 good hitters, because there are injuries and slumps. When you are talking about why sign those guys. Look at the catcher that is going to Miami, Yasmani Grandal. He got offered $750,000 [by the Red Sox]. I've been in his house. His whole house area is as big as [the FIU baseball press box]. I would think he would have signed for $75,000 much less than $750,000. You don't know who's going to college and who's not.
Baltimorepanther: Why do you think you have been such a successful recruiter?
TT: I don't know that I have. There are a lot of great ones out there. First of all, you got to have something to sell. We got a lot to sell here at FIU and I think it's just going to get better and better as time goes along. I think the number one thing you got to have is an eye for talent. You got to kind of look at a kid and when it's 90 miles an hour can he hit that or is he good about hitting 80-82 mile stuff. Can he hit at that next level. Like a pitcher. Three characteristics of every pitch is velocity, movement and location. Does he have at least two of those qualities in his pitches. Does he have a second pitch, a third pitch. A guy can't just be a one-pitch guy unless he's going to be a closer and he can blow it by somebody. The three most important things for getting a guy to me is the visit to your school has to go well. He has to feel comfortable. He has to like what he sees around the program. Number two if you make a home visit or a visit after a game, how does that visit go? Do you relate to him? Number three is the phone calls, the letters, the e-mails. But the biggest thing in recruiting is perseverance.
Baltimorepanther: Do you have any spring games planned against the Marlins or Yankees?
TT: No, but we would like to play the Marlins definitely in the future. No question about it.
GPP: Anything new with the possibility of continuing the series with the Hurricanes, beyond the two games scheduled for this season?
TT: Nope. It's up to them. I would like to play them eight times each season. Four games here at FIU and four over there, but I'm not going to beg.
I had the chance to speak with Skip Bertman last Saturday at the Miami Dade College baseball reunion. SB will be the keynote speaker at the FIU Baseball Diamond Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at FIU's Graham Center. Here's what SB had to say about TT, who was SB's assistant at LSU during the 2000 College World Series championship season.
SB: We could not have won that 2000 title without Turtle. Yes, he is an excellent recruiter, but what makes him stand out more than anything is that he's one of the best 1-on-1 coaches in the business. During the 2000 season, we had a 2nd baseman named Ray Wright, who we needed to convert to an outfielder, because of injuries. Ray had never played the outfield before, but we had Turtle teach the kid how to play the position. By the time the College World Series came around, Ray saved a couple of games for us with two spectacular catches in Omaha. As a coach, Turtle is very underrated. That FIU program is going to take off under him.
Would be a coup to see Booker T. defensive lineman Jonathan Jackson join teammate Kambriel Willis at FIU. JJ has taken a beating lately from the Coral Gables faithful after saying "FIU's my leader". Of course, the other school's fans are going to belittle the kid. God forbid they lose a football recruit to 6- year-old FIU.
NYCFIUFan: We really won't know how good the FIU recruiting classes will be until a few years down the road. On paper, everybody recruited has their share of accolades, but whether those show up on the college gridiron remains to be seen.
FIU Fanatic: 28 sacks from Kambriel Willis is correct.
Baseball Fan: FIU baseball alumni game is cancelled, because due to NCAA rules the current Golden Panthers baseball team already played the one exhibition game they can play (vs. Canada last November).
CJ: Like the rest of the FIU recruiting class, we'll just have to see how good defensive back Marcelus Manear is. Unlike, some of the local players like Willis and Jackson, I personally did not get to see Manear.
UltimateFIUFan: The word is Redd White quit the team, because he was not happy not being the number one scoring option on the Golden Panthers. In the last game he played at FIU, SR benched him the entire second half for disciplinary reasons. The kid wasn't exactly the second coming of Michael Jordan, if he was Texas A&M never would have let him transfer.
24/7-11: Good to hear from you, thought Randy Shannon had fired you with his D-coordinator.
FIURisingUp: Welcome to the GPP.