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June 30, 2011

Two-sport star Taiwan Easterling signs with Cubs

Florida State outfielder and wide receiver, Taiwan Easterling agreed to terms with the Chicago Cubs organization on Thursday.

Easterling was a 27th round pick by the Cubs earlier this month in the MLB draft. Eastlering hit .296 with five doubles, drove in 19 runs and was six-for-six in stolen base attempts this season.

On the gridiron in 2010 Easterling set career-highs in receptions (43), yards (551), and touchdowns (5, including the game-winner in the Chic-fil-A Bowl).

Baseball will now be the former Mississippi Mr. Baseball's sole focus.

"Taiwan and I talked and he's decided to pursue his career in baseball," said FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher. "I totally support him 100 percent. He did an outstanding job for us.

"I would have loved to have him back, but I totally understand him pursuing his future endeavors. Baseball is the way for him to go and we wish him nothing but the best."

Playing football never allowed Easterling to dedicate more than a few months to the sport each year. Because of that FSU baseball coach Mike Martin believes that Easterling has just scratched the surface of his abilities.

"I think you are only getting a glimpse of what Taiwan's true potential is, because he never really devoted more than a couple or three straight months to baseball," said Martin. "One year he got off to a terrible start and didn't get to play very much. This past year I saw him jump by leaps and bounds in just a two and half month period."

The 6'0, 180-pound outfielder showed flashes of his potential as he gained more at-bats down the stretch for FSU. For the majority of the second half of the season, Easterling was in the lineup as either the DH, or in centerfield when Mike McGee was on the mound.

In the regional final against Alabama, Easterling recorded a career-high four hits as he went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI as FSU eliminated the Tide 11-1.

"I think when he had that big four-hit night he really showed what he's capable of doing," Martin said. "He is a guy that threw well, ran well, and will probably hit for a little power in pro ball."

The two-sport star's departure will likely be felt more by the baseball program than the football team. Football has a stable of young receivers like Jared Haggins, Greg Dent, and Kenny Shaw among others ready for their opportunity.

On the baseball side, Easterling is the third outfielder FSU has lost since the season ended with seniors Mike McGee and Stuart Tapley graduating. James Ramsey, a 22nd pick by the Minnesota Twins, may sign a pro contract as well before the season begins.

"It's certainly going to affect us, because he was guy that's experienced and really had big plans for him," Martin said of the loss of Easterling. "But we are so very pleased that he's getting a chance to go play pro ball. So we'll just have to give somebody else an opportunity and see what they do with it."



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