In high school I was an average baseball player that had dreams of playing baseball at the Division I and Professional levels. I pitched and played the corners; I hit right around .300 and I did not throw any harder than 80-82 MPH. As a senior in high school it was hard to get any looks from colleges, because I did not have any aspect of my game that would turn heads. I went to one showcase which had close to 100 college schools and scouts there, I had my talents evaluated at this showcase by a college coach. The handout the evaluator at the showcase gave me afterwards showed that I would be best fit to play at a DIII or NAIA school. Typically, DI schools want to recruit high school kids that throw near 90 MPH and if they are being recruited for hitting then they want them to hit at least above .400. Also, most high school kids play travel baseball especially in California where I am from. I played travel ball, but it was very local, and we were not travelling to the heavily scouted areas with a lot of teams. So, it was even harder to be seen by colleges based off of location as well as my skillset.
Luckily, there is a junior college in my hometown and the coach asked if I would like to come and play including some of my high school teammates. Growing up I never thought about going to a junior college and believed I would play at a DI right out of high school, but junior college was my best opportunity to continue chasing my dream of playing at higher levels. I played on the summer team before my first semester started at the school, I learned a lot and they allowed me to play the field, hit, and pitch. My first year of junior college was tough for me, I ended up starting one of the three games each week on the mound. At this point, I wanted to hit and get a chance to play every day, but I would be a defensive replacement late in some games and ended up with 6 plate appearances on the year. I did well for my school that year statistically and was looking forward to my sophomore year. In the Fall I was invited to a Junior College Sophomore Showcase where I was able to throw in front of 300 colleges and scouts. I spoke with 5 or 6 schools after this, but nothing came out of it. In the Spring I ended up playing every day, I played first base two days a week and pitched the other day of the week. I still was not throwing very hard, I maybe topped out at 88 MPH that year and sat around 85 MPH. As a right-handed pitcher, this is not going to get you many opportunities to play at the DI level. I would email schools in the Spring, I would send them my current stats for the year and when my next game was going to be in addition to video of me throwing in games. I was fortunate to have pitched exceptionally well that year with a 2.15 ERA in 100 innings, and I hit .310 from the left side. It was clear that my future was on the mound and schools were very interested in me pitching for them. I also filled out a questionnaire for the Philadelphia Phillies which was one of the highlights of that year for me. Although I had a great year, I was still not throwing as hard as most schools would have wanted so it was still challenging to get offers from schools. The recruiting process was difficult, and stressful at times, you need to be able to stay on top of your emails, voicemails, texting, schoolwork, and performing well. I talked to some DI schools and a lot of DII schools, but a lot of the schools did not offer money and I wanted the school to show financially that they believed in me (If you get a scholarship to a DI school, you are on the team for the Spring no matter what happens. I wanted to be on the team and not have to worry about being cut). The most challenging part about the recruiting process is continuing the conversation with schools that showed interest but are no longer contacting you first, I would text the school that I had not heard from in a while with my last game stats and the next upcoming game where I was slated to throw. I would also end the message with a note about their last series and that I was paying attention to how they were doing. When it all was said and done only one DI offered me money in the Spring (California State University at Northridge) that made sense from a financial perspective and an athletic perspective. I was offered a scholarship to Northridge to pitch only, although I wanted to hit, I did not want to play at a lower division college in order to hit as well. When you start advancing to higher levels of baseball, the less pitchers are allowed to hit. Junior College allowed for me to continue hitting, which was the thing I enjoyed most about the game.
Showing up to my first practice at Northridge, I did not know what to expect and because I did not throw very hard, I thought it would be hard to play. But I started out in the bullpen and worked my way into a Sunday start which lead to more opportunities. Eventually in my Junior year I settled into the Friday starters role and had a good year. I ended up with a 3.42 ERA in 92 innings. The highlight of the year for me was a complete game victory over University of California at Santa Barbara and I threw 7 innings giving up one unearned run against the University of Southern California. Although I had a good year it was not great, and I was not throwing hard enough to get any looks from MLB scouts. So, I played my senior year at Northridge and I ended up missing the whole entire fall with a bad case of mono. In the Spring, I started on Fridays again and played in 5 games. My best game was against Michigan that year and I threw 6 innings and gave up one earned run and struck out 8. At this point in the season they were ranked 17th overall and they ended up making it to the College World Series and losing to Vanderbilt in the final series. I finished the season after my fifth start when I had ended up tearing my UCL and it required season ending surgery. Although this was not ideal, I managed to meet the requirements for a Medical Redshirt so the NCAA would be able to grant me another year of eligibility. When I elected to have surgery, I spoke with the team and told them I was transferring after the year would end. So, the recruiting process started over again. It was challenging to get recruited when I was 20 and healthy. It was even more challenging to get recruited when there is no guarantee of you being able to throw a baseball again. When you graduate from a DI college there are no restrictions on transferring whereas if I transferred after my junior year, I would have had to sit out a year in order to play at the school I transferred to. So, I continued doing what I had done when I was a Sophomore at my junior college. In 2019, the NCAA changed how recruiting worked as a transfer and created the transfer portal. Once a player is in the transfer portal any school in the country has access to see my name and give me a call or send an email. It was not hard getting to the first conversation with schools, but it was hard maintaining conversations because I was in an arm brace with no guarantee of being able to throw again. I emailed every school in the country with a winning record and or top two teams in their conference. I wanted to be a part of a winning program and make the postseason, the one thing I had never done was make the postseason in college. I spoke with several DI programs and only one school offered money. Middle Tennessee State University offered me a scholarship which meant I was on the team in the Spring no matter what. This was a necessity for me because I was injured, if I was not on money I could have been cut at any time for any reason. When you are a graduate transfer, you have to be in a Master’s Program in order to be eligible to play.
Eventually, I moved across the country 31 hours from Coastal California to Murfreesboro Tennessee. This was a big change even as a 22-year-old, mostly because I was leaving everyone I had ever known and going somewhere where I did not know anyone. It was very similar to moving to Northridge, but the difference was I was only 3 hours from home. I started the Master’s Program and it was and is still challenging especially while playing a sport. In the Fall I was doing a throwing program 5 days a week and was not able to play until the Spring because of the surgery. Coming back after the Winter, it was exciting to finally play in a game after watching the whole fall. I did well in the first three weeks before the season started and managed to get innings in the season as a reliever. Our season was cut short due to the global pandemic (Covid-19). We ended up playing 17 games of our 56-game schedule. I managed to start a game against Memphis in one of our last games before the season came to a halt. Fortunately, the NCAA granted everyone another year and the school renewed my scholarship again from the previous year. I am back for my second year at MTSU and will graduate and play this Spring. I am looking forward to my 6th year of college baseball and trying to fulfill my dream to play at the professional level.
In addition to playing, this semester I am doing an Internship here at Recruit Reels. At MTSU I am currently in the Masters of Science (M.S.) in Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Management with a concentration in the Sport Industry program. The internship is a good way to take different aspects of the curriculum and apply them in the Leisure Sports and Tourism field. I have learned how to work with others, create content for social media, search for new clients, and help make highlight videos for current clients. The Department of Management at MTSU’s mission is to connect students with businesses and businesses with students. Through the Internship at Recruit Reels, I have had a great opportunity of hands-on learning from my coworkers who have been in the field for over ten years. I am looking forward to learning more and heading into the Spring season.