Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports, who may or may not wear clown makeup according to his profile picture, has put together a fantastic feature on San Diego Padres draft pick Karsten Whitson, who turned down a $2.1 million signing bonus to play college baseball with the Florida Gators.
I don’t know anything about Florida’s recruitment methods, but I imagine they’re rivaled only by Big State University’s.
As Rogers points out in his article, even with the recent decisions by former high school pitchers Gerrit Cole and Matt Purke to spurn millions of dollars to attend college and improve their chances at a larger signing bonus, Whitson is taking a big chance with his career over the next three years, when he’ll again be eligible for the MLB draft.
Refreshingly, it doesn’t seem to be about the money for Whitson.
I would tell any kid out of high school they better be comfortable with going pro, because once you make that decision, you’re 100 percent into that level of baseball. It’s a grind and some players just aren’t fully ready for it.
Mentally and physically, I thought I’d be ready for pro ball, but then I get here to Florida and I hardly could walk after just a week of workouts. I’m just glad I am here at Florida and can work on things like staying in shape and work ethic. It has been wonderful so far.
This statement is coming from a 19 year old. When I was 19, the only three things on my mind were: 1) How am I going to get drunk tonight? 2) How am I going to convince a girl to sleep with me tonight? 3) How am I going to beat my roommate at Triple Play Baseball?
Normally, the idea of turning down $2.1 million for any reason would seem absolutely idiotic, but Whitson comes across as having a level of maturity normally attributed to someone years older. That maturity and the coverage it’s garnering will make Whitson an interesting player to follow ahead of the 2013 draft.