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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Former USF Slugger Maxwell Signs with Santa Fe

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 11/15/2012
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Former Sioux Falls slugger Jimmy Maxwell has signed a professional baseball contract with the Santa Fe Fuego of the independent Pecos League. 

“I’m just happy to have the chance to play professional baseball, which is something that a lot of guys never get the chance to experience,” Maxwell said. “I’m excited to see where this opportunity takes me.”

Maxwell is the second USF player under six-year head coach Matt Guiliano to sign a professional contract this year. Earlier this spring, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted junior right-hander Chris Nichols in the 31st round. Nichols worked his way up to the Lakewood BlueClaws (A) before the end of the summer.  

“Jimmy worked very hard during his two years at USF and deserves this chance,” said Guiliano. “Our program has come a long way, and Jimmy is guy that we can point to for our current players and future recruits."

“We hope to attract players similar to both Jimmy and Chris to our program each year,” he added.  

Much like other ballplayers, Maxwell’s path to the professional ranks has been anything but arrow-straight. Maxwell was the classic dual threat at Rancho Buena Vista High School (Calif.), as he was the Longhorns’ ace and also batted cleanup. Maxwell signed with Western Oregon University (NCAA D-II) but his pitching career came to an abrupt end his freshman year when he suffered a torn labrum and rotator cuff in 2008.

Maxwell transferred to Southwestern CC and was still rehabbing his shoulder when his bat caught Guiliano’s eye and the California kid was recruited to Sioux Falls.

He made an immediate impact upon joining the Cougar baseball program in 2011. A second team All-GPAC choice and a two-time GPAC Offensive Player of the Week, Maxwell put up a slash of .298/.677/.445 as USF's full-time first baseman. He was the Cougars’ team leader in home runs (12), RBI (36) and base on balls (30)—not to mention 6-for-6 on stolen base attempts.

He spent the summer of 2011 playing with the Jayhawk League's Haysville Heat (Kan.), where he batted .299 with six home runs and 15 RBI. The Haysville Heat was the 2011 Jayhawk League champions and made it to the Super Six of the 2011 National Baseball Congress World Series.

Maxwell, as a 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior, was the top returning hitter for the Cougar in 2012, but he suffered a fracture to the scaphoid bone in his left hand in late February when a runner slammed into his hand as Maxwell applied a tag. That injury cost Maxwell four games and deprived him of his power for the remainder of the season, but not playing was never an option. Maxwell moved from first base to the hot corner and saw his homers turn to keystone hits, of which he recorded 14, along with two home runs and a triple. He hit .339/.412/.525 as a senior and was the Cougars’ top man in RBI (15), hits (40) and total bases (62).

Maxwell ended his two-year USF career with a .318/.428/.601 slash to go with 77 hits, 14 home runs, 25 doubles, 51 RBI and 44 runs scored. He ranks fifth all-time at USF with 14 home runs and a .601 career slugging percentage. Maxwell is also second on USF's single season walk list (30, 2011) and fifth on the single season home run list (12, 2011).

At the end of the spring semester, Maxwell returned to California to play summer ball for the San Diego Waves, a 17-year member of the National Baseball Congress (NBC). His left paw fully healed, Maxwell returned to form and was the Waves’ Co-MVP, slugging .291/.372/.583 with seven doubles and 10 homers. He collected MVP honors at the 2nd Annual Western Baseball Association All-Star Game, where he went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.

The Pecos League is an eight-team outfit that is based out of Houston, Texas. The teams are scattered throughout the desert mountain regions of New Mexico, Colorado and West Texas, in locales such as Roswell, Santa Fe, Trinidad and Las Vegas.  The Pecos League is known as the place where “The Land of Enchantment meets the Lone Star State.” It’s certainly not a pitcher’s league (which suits Maxwell just fine), as the average ballpark elevation stands at 4,870 feet.

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