A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For his 47 fellow Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Lance McCullers Jr.
School: Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
Weight: 205 pounds
Athletic achievement: McCullers posted a 13-0 record with a 0.18 ERA and 140 strikeouts against 30 walks in 77.1 innings pitched this past season, leading the Tigers (28-2) to the Class 5A state semifinals. The 2011 Jackie Robinson Award winner as the country’s top rising senior, he batted .280 with two home runs and 21 RBI, stealing 10 bases in 10 attempts. An All-American as named by ESPNHS, Baseball America, Perfect Game, MaxPreps and Louisville Slugger, McCullers scored 27 runs while producing a .467 on-base percentage and .467 slugging percentage. In addition to making seven appearances for the 2010 USA Baseball 18-and-Under National Team, he also participated in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game and 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Academic excellence: McCullers has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A volunteer on behalf of Challenger Baseball, the Special Olympics, Metropolitan Ministries, the Head Start Program and as a Bakas Equestrian Center assistant for intellectually challenged children, he has also donated his time as part of a literacy-outreach program, as a motivational speaker for middle school children and as part of multiple food drives in association with Jesuit High.
“Lance McCullers is an outstanding athlete,” said David Koons, head coach at rival Blake (Tampa, Fla.). “There is no doubt that he is an extreme talent on the baseball field. He is also a player that shows great respect to the players and coaches around him. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played—with respect, class and hard-fought effort.”
THE FUTURE: McCullers has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at the University of Florida this fall, but is projected as an early round selection in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.