In last year's MLB draft, Major League teams selected 379 high school players. One of the top choices was Kyle Twomey, a tall left-handed pitcher from Placentia in Orange County. Kyle and his parents had a decision to make. Join the Oakland A's organization for a projected signing bonus of 450-thousand dollars, or honor a commitment to pitch at USC.
"I'd say it was difficult at first. It was a lot of family gatherings, I would say," Twomey said. "It definitely brought the family and I a lot closer, just because it's a decision that you don't often get. And out of high school, you only get it once.”
He had only a month to decide. One of the people trying to make sure Kyle came to U-S-C was Dan Hubbs, the head coach of the baseball team. Hubbs knows that the majority of high school players selected early in the draft choose to go to the pros. Kyle, as a third-round pick, had the chance to earn a lot of money.
"I think you're recruiting them until they show up on campus, and that's just part of the job," Hubbs said. "I mean, it's trying to have constant communication with those kids. Your job with them isn't over with them or their families once they commit to you, it's all the way through the process."
Hubbs and the Trojans had already lost three recruits to the pros, with two of them signing for bonuses of more than a million dollars each. The coach did not want to lose
another top player.
"We felt like, about two weeks left, that he was coming to school, that that was a done deal," he said. "But you never know. I mean, the A's could have come back at the 24th hour and just said, here you go, and we would have lost him."
So what does it take for a 19-year-old to turn down a bonus of half-a-million dollars to go play pro baseball?
"Obviously, the money, it's a tease for everybody. Everybody wants to be in that position financially, but it wasn't something that was gonna keep me financially supported for the rest of my life," Twomey said. "That money is just there, and it's there until it's gone. And for me, that wasn't enough."
Kyle turned down the A's and enrolled at USC last fall. He told me he wanted to be a Trojan since he was 12 years old, making a visit to the school with his dad.
"We were walking by a couple of the athletic centers, and I was like 'Man,it would be so awesome to hopefully someday be able to play baseball here'," he said. "And just walking around the campus and loving everything about it, so being out here actually with him in the stands… it really was just surreal."
There were scouts sitting behind home plate, a reminder of that pro teams are still watching him. Out of every high school pitcher in the country last year, he was the 26th selected in last year's draft. So does he feel any extra pressure to make sure he is drafted highly again in two years?
"I'm not really sure," he said. "I think, as a freshman, I'm not really worried about it at all. The draft was my senior year in high school and it's over now. I made a decision to come here and it's by far, to this point, the best decision I could have made."
His next chance for a pro contract will be in the 2015 Draft. But for Kyle Twomey and hundreds like him, going to college is an important detour on their road to the Big Leagues.
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