Posted: 11:09 pm Monday, August 6th, 2012
By Matt Porter
One of the top baseball players in Palm Beach County has chosen to skip his senior season.
West Boca Raton senior Michael Barash, a standout catcher, will graduate early and play at LSU. He plans to enroll at LSU in January, leaving the Bulls without their top player but improving, Barash’s family hopes, his chances at a pro career.
“I’m going to come in the spring and expedite the draft process. With the new CBA, there’s not a lot of money going around. I’m not a Michael Kelly-level draft pick,” Barash said, referencing the former West Boca Raton pitcher drafted 48th overall in 2011. “I’ve accomplished everything I want to at West Boca. It’s time to make a new challenge for myself.”
While early graduation is common with football players, who graduate high school after playing fall football, it’s rare with baseball players. Barash said his family leaned on that of former Fort Lauderdale-Calvary Christian catcher Taylor Gushue, who last year graduated high school early and enrolled at Florida.
Last year, Gushue and Vanderbilt freshman catcher Chris Harvey were the only early graduates playing college baseball.
Early graduation is a burgeoning trend college coaches approve of, since it means a player won’t turn pro out of high school. Once in college, a player is not draft-eligible until their junior year.
Of the handful of early high school graduates who played in college, Levi Michael (North Carolina) and Trevor Bauer (UCLA) were first-round picks in 2011.
By heading early to LSU, Barash will receive the benefit of college coaching and jockey for early playing time. Junior Ty Ross, the Tigers’ starting catcher, will be eligible for the MLB Draft in 2013. Barash will be eligible for the draft as a junior in 2015.
Barash was a Palm Beach Post All-Area first team selection last season, when he batted a team-high .500. He won a Class 5A state championship with the Bulls in 2011.
“I know people might be upset with me,” Barash said. “But this is the absolute best thing for me and my family. I’ll be around. I’m going to play in the fall. I’m still a part of the family and I’m still the Bulls’ biggest fan.”