OMAHA—Everyone has an opinion on Tyler Holt, Florida State's center fielder and offensive leader since Buster Posey left town on the way to the majors back in 2008.
Geoff Parker, the Seminoles' reliever, formed one in high school, when he faced Holt in a showcase tournament at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla. He knew they were both Seminoles signees, but that didn't stop Holt from getting under his skin.
"He told me later how he hated facing me because it was 90-91 (mph) at 8 in the morning," Parker said. "But once he woke up, he started with all his antics that get in a pitcher's head—taking pitches, talking, getting hits.
"When I played in the Cape last summer at Harwich, guys would ask me what kind of guy Holt was, and I just said the same thing: He's the kind of guy you love if he's on your team and you hate if he's not. He feeds off his own anger, I guess, and we feed off of him."
Nobody in Garnet and Gold wants Holt to stop anytime soon. He has posted on-base plus slugging percentages (OPS) near 1.100 each of the last two seasons and had three hits—including a long leadoff homer in the bottom of the first—to spark Monday's 8-5 victory against Florida.
Holt didn't want to let on too much at how special it was to beat the Gators and end their season in Omaha, with Florida State having won four of the five games in the season series. But don't forget, Holt is a Seminole who went to Gainesville High.
"I really don't care what people think about me, obviously," he said. "I'm from Gainesville and I'm an FSU fan, and I came to school here. I've been dealing with haters all my life. I just care that we won and I get to play with these guys again.
"That's the approach I have taken. Every lift (in the weight room) could be my last lift; every at-bat could be my last at-bat with this team."
Holt has played with a chip on his shoulder his whole career, and it has produced impressive results. Yet he was only a 10th-round pick, going to the Indians. Area scouts in north Florida were vexed by his squatty stance, his good-but-not-great speed, and finding a profile for him at the pro level.
He has changed a bit as a junior, scouts say, sacrificing some batting average for power, and he has 13 homers after hitting just eight total in his first two seasons. He's grown as a player and as a person, according to coach Mike Martin.
"It's been fun watching that young man grow up," Martin said prior to the CWS. "He's just a guy that plays extremely hard every day. And when you're sitting over in the (other) dugout, you don't really enjoy seeing him come to the plate.
"But Holt is a guy that's very vocal. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. And he's one of a kind, is about the only way I can say it. He's a dirtbag, a fireball, a redneck, take your pick."
Martin would like most to have Holt back in the fold next year. First-team All-American Mike McGee likely will be back after being a 41st-round pick this year. Holt said the Indians have contacted him only to wish him luck in the postseason and to say they'll talk contract after he's done with the NCAA tournament.
Holt intends to do everything he can to postpone that conversation.
"I don't even want to think about the draft right now," he said. "It would be nice to say you're a first-round pick, or a second-round pick, or a third-round pick, or whatever. But my teammates told me I should realize that I'm blessed to be picked at all, that some guys don't even get that opportunity, and they're right. I'm just trying to do what I can to help us win here."
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