Dealing with the transition from the amateur to the professional level can be difficult. There is a lot of competition out there and many different processes that involve many different factors and decisons which can add to the complexity. That is why in this segment, we talk with somebody who has been there personally and can explain the ins and outs and what goes into the entire process. Hopefully, we clarify and simplify the entire ordeal so that it makes more sene. There are many players and many scouts but American baseball has a great setup for players trying to make it to the big league with Major League Baseball Minor League teams in A, AA, and AAA. The draft itself spans for fifty rounds so small details count a great deal and patience should be a virtue that you obtain.
Baseball Video Transcription: In college obviously we get metal bats, coming out of high school I was just happy to make it to college, but when you go to the Citadel it’s the definition of a developmental program because you literally get locked up with nothing better to do but get better at your sport or get your grades up. My freshman year I had a pretty good year, then we go play in the collegiate summer ball league and you're swinging wood bats their so it's really a big jump because you go from these metal bats where you can miss hit a ball and still hit home runs to wood bats where if you miss hit a ball, the handle of the bat is in your hand and the ball is going to the pitcher and your thinking “well that sucks.” And that's the thing, I played summer ball every year, I played in the Coastal Plain league after my freshman year, in Cape Cod after my sophomore year, and back in the Coastal Plain league after my junior year and I always had good numbers in summer ball because when you have a wood bat in your hands it becomes more important how good your swing is and how consistent your swing is. When you have a metal bat, sometimes you can just go up there and take an absolute hack at any pitch and end up hitting it okay. There's a lot of guys that struggle with the summer ball and I had times when I went to the Cape, I struggled a lot, but I learned how to deal with, so it was a good experience. I had never struggled with baseball at any point in my life up until then, so I think it was a good experience because I learned how to deal with failure and learned how to work myself out of a slump, work myself out of being in my own head, that I couldn’t hit.
A lot of guys like to take the summers off, and have some downtime, I had never done that, like I said I played year-round from the time I was 4 years old. So when somebody asked if I wanted play in the summer league, I said, “yeah, absolutely.” That actually really helped me transition into pro ball that I had actually played with wood bats and played full seasons and things like that and been away from home because that's another thing that people struggle with when they get burnt out, is when you're in college you're not with your parents, they're not taking care of you. Most of the time you're going to a different city, me, it's 6 1/2 hours, I'm from Tampa. That's part of it, people don't think about it but that's just another mental strain on you if you're homesick, and now you're trying to go out and be the best athlete you possibly can.
Getting Drafted to the Pros vs. College Recruiting
As far as me getting drafted, I never thought it would happen because my goal was just to get to college and play in college. But I kept getting better getting better, and as you develop tools and skills, you start hearing, “hey this guy might get a shot at being drafted,” then you get a letter or 2 from a scout that has seen you play, it's almost just like college recruiting, you get excited about it. The draft is even more fickle than college recruiting because there are tons of these guys and they’re scouting kids from all over. There's 50 rounds in every draft so instead of when you're going to college, they're only going to bring in 5 or 6 guys a year, so if you're getting talk to or getting asked about by a college coach you're obviously an exclusive person because they only have 6 slots. Well they've got 50 coming in every year plus all the free agents that they sign, so really if you get a letter or talking to you it doesn't really make that big of a deal. I learned that after my junior year when I thought I was going to get drafted pretty high and I was told that I was going to get drafted pretty high, and I never heard my name called. The draft is different than in college because the guy just says “hey we want to sign you, here's your letter to sign.”
The MLB Draft Experience
Well in the draft, it's a complete crapshoot because they have all their scouts in one room fighting saying ”we need to take this guy, we need to take this guy” and the guy from the West Coast is doing the same thing so you never know. So what ended up happening is I kept hearing after my junior year was that I was going to go, but I never did. I was a little disappointed but then I thought now I get to finish school. I can graduate with a degree and have no debt and if I get drafted next year it's all gravy because I won't have anything else that I have to do in my life. If I had gone after my junior year I still would've had 2 semesters to finish. So it was a blessing in disguise. And then after my senior year I had a good year again, I got a call and was told I would be an early pick, possibly top 10 rounds, which is great because you're still going to get some sort of signing bonus money out of that. As a senior, you don't have any leverage but if you go high enough in the draft you can get a little bit of money. Turns out 2nd, 3rd day, 20 rounds had gone by and I haven't even gotten a phone call from any body saying “hey we might take you.”
I got really discouraged because you're sitting there, the draft takes all day because each team is drafting each round, they go pretty quickly but you're sitting there all these teams that called you and told you they were going to take you in an early round pick and they just keep flying through and it's different guys and you're sitting there thinking “wow, I guess I’m really not that good.” I had just quit watching because they do the whole thing online, I had gone outside to play football with my little brother and my mom just happened to be walking to the computer room and heard my name called. What they do is they have a radio broadcast of them they have a website, like a flash site where they’re feeding up all the draft picks and the statistics on them and she just happened to hear my name called by the Cardinals and it was the 26th round. She came running outside and said ”hey I think you just got drafted” and I said “yeah mom that’s funny, really today of all days you would make that joke?” She came and got me and pulled me in “No seriously, I just heard your name,” and sure enough it popped up.
All of the ill will, all of the anger that I had felt because I felt like I'd been lied to went out the window because I get a chance to realize my dream, I have a chance to play ball for a living. We went to Palm Beach 2 days later and I went to a short season club and that was my 1st year. To tell you the truth, the draft a experience was kind of crappy, well more of a mixture of emotions, it was up-and-down but ever since then I cherished every moment that I had just like I did in college, I come back here and train with the guys here now and I know exactly what they're going through, I was telling one of my coaches that I would pay or give anything in the world just to sit in the dugout and run out one more time for the Citadel and I feel the same about every team that I play on but it's definitely a little different at the Citadel.
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