FORT MYERS, Fla. – After turning in arguably one of the best offensive careers in FGCU history, senior Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) wait to get into the professional ranks is over, as the program’s all-time leader in four different statistical categories signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Tigers this past weekend.
Less than a month removed from his senior campaign in which he became the first player in program history to hit double figure home runs in three straight seasons, Maxfield will begin his career with the Lakeland Tigers of the Gulf Coast League (GCL).
Monday is the opening day for the Gulf Coast League, as Lakeland will host the Phillies at noon. Maxfield is listed as first baseman and will wear No. 22. A total of 15 teams make up the GCL, spreading out over three divisions. The Tigers are in the North Division.
Maxfield’s three-year career in the blue and green saw him finish as the all-time leader in doubles (54), home runs (41), RBI (180) and total bases (418). Even more impressive, Maxfield’s power numbers came alongside a .371 career batting average, producing a hit in 139 of 162 games. He was a two-time Atlantic Sun All-Conference selection, highlighted by a first team choice in 2009, and was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year in 2010.
A native of nearby North Port, Fla., which is just an hour and a half from Lakeland, Maxfield opened his career at FGCU in 2009 with a program single-season record 20 home runs and a .738 slugging percentage. Included in that breakout campaign was a .383 batting average, 82 hits, 59 runs scored, 16 doubles and an FGCU Division I record 66 RBI. His 20 home runs that season led the A-Sun and ranked ninth in the nation.
Maxfield’s signing marks the second time in the last five days that an FGCU player has inked a pro contract. Fellow senior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) was picked up by the Boston Red Sox last Thursday and assigned to the Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League.
The Eagles had three current players and one signee selected in the 2011 MLB Draft. Incoming freshman Granden Goetzman (Palmetto, Fla./Palmetto HS) is the only to sign a professional contract after being taken in the second round with the No. 75 overall pick by the Tampa Rays. The signing deadline for all MLB draftees is Aug. 15.
Junior Jacob Barnes (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg HS) was taken in the 14th round by the Milwaukee Brewers on the second day. The 33rd round saw a pair of Eagles come off the board, as senior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn./Northwest HS/St. Petersburg) was selected by the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins took senior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary).
In all, the Atlantic Sun Conference had 18 current players drafted, equaling the second-best total set in 2009. The conference record of 21 draftees came in 2006. The 2011 season was a banner year for the A-Sun, as it sent three teams into the NCAA Tournament (Belmont, Jacksonville, Stetson) and was ranked No. 7 in WarrenNolan.com’s conference RPI ratings for most of the season.