Draft Diaries: College Or High School?

Major League Baseball holds their annual Amateur Draft from June 4 through the 6 this week, and we have decided to get a look from different angles on the Frisco RoughRiders. A very low percentage of draft picks ever reach the Major Leagues and those that do never take the exact same path to reach it. There will be 1,200 or so players drafted over the next three days and a large majority of them will likely never make it to Double-A, let alone the Big Leagues. Here are stories from those that have or have played roles in those that have.

The draft is an exciting process and one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that few get to experience. Many guys go through the ranks of baseball starting at an early age and continue to play up through high school.

High school draft picks used to be less common but it seems like the 2012 draft indicates the tides could be changing. In this year’s draft, 17 of the first-round picks were from high school. Players in this position have tough decisions to make. Will they sign with the team that drafted them? Will they go to college ball and take the risk of getting hurt or not being drafted again? ‘Riders starter Jake Brigham had this decision laid before him in 2006.

Jake Brigham had just graduated from Central Florida Christian Academy and already had plans to play college baseball at the University of Central Florida. In the sixth round of the 2006 draft, Brigham was selected by the Texas Rangers. Less than ten minutes after his name was called, he got a phone call from the coach at UCF.

“He wanted me to come see the facilities again,” Brigham said. “But I knew if (the Rangers) could make it worth my while that I wanted to go play baseball. I wanted to get it started. I wanted to learn from the best about what I wanted to do with my life and my career.”

Ultimately Brigham chose to go the professional baseball route and says several factors let him know he made the right decision.

“I signed with UCF because there was a pitching coach there, Craig Cozart, who had a really good reputation as far as being a pitching coach,” Brigham said.  “He ended up leaving there at the end of what would have been my freshman year so it ended up working out perfectly.”

Brigham said although he hasn’t gone to college yet, it could still be in his future and he credits the Rangers for making that possible as well.

“That’s the good thing about signing out of high school. The team puts away an allotted amount of money for you to go back to school so whenever I’m done at some point, I do have a scholarship pretty much waiting for me.”

While Brigham decided to play professional baseball out of high school, fellow ‘Riders starter Barret Loux decided to go to college. Loux was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2007 but didn’t sign so he could go to Texas A&M where he majored in finance. Loux said he didn’t feel like he was ready to take on the role of professional pitcher.

“At that point and time I didn’t feel like my arm was ready to throw every five days and I wanted the college experience,” Loux said.

In 2011, Loux was drafted in the first round, sixth overall, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. With some reservation about Loux’s future, the Diamondbacks decided not to sign him. The next few months were hard on him as he waited to hear whether he could be declared a free agent.

“Once I found out (Arizona) wasn’t going to sign me, it took me awhile to get over it but I finally did realize there were bigger things in life and that I was still very lucky and blessed,” Loux said. “That really helped me get over it and got me to see things clearly.”

Loux was declared a free agent that fall and Texas signed him in December of 2010. He said he couldn’t be happier than where he is now playing in his home state.

As for current and future draft picks, Brigham and Loux said it’s best to enjoy the moment and make the choice that is right for the player.

“Enjoy the process. It goes quick. I can’t believe I’m already in my seventh season but just enjoy it,” Brigham said. “Don’t think about tomorrow. It’ll take care of itself.”

Written  by: Jarah Wright

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