Sam Ayala, the senior slugger for the La Jolla Country Day baseball team, was drafted in the 17th round of Major League Baseball’s draft last week by the Chicago White Sox.
But don’t expect to see Ayala on Chicago’s south side anytime soon.
In an intense process that forces 18-year-old athletes to grow up quickly, Ayala still has his eyes and his future set on attending UC Santa Barbara — for now.
Ayala was almost drafted in the fourth round by the St. Louis Cardinals, but the team’s offer wasn’t substantial enough to persuade Ayala to give up his full scholarship at UCSB. Ayala said the Cardinals offered him $300,000 and a guarantee to cover four years of college tuition and room and board if his baseball career didn’t go well.
“That’s not the money I was looking for,’’ Ayala said. “If someone offered me what giving up college for now is worth, I’d be a fool not to take it, but I want to go to college.’’
The White Sox, Ayala said, still decided to draft him in the later, 17th round and offered him $200,000 and a
guarantee to fund his college education if baseball doesn’t work out.
“That wasn’t my number either,’’ Ayala said.
Flanked by his father and two advisers familiar with the baseball draft process, Ayala said he was weighing his options carefully. Baseball has until July 13 to sign their drafted players and more substantial offers can come between now and then.
“But everybody is glad right now that I’m going to college,’’ Ayala said. “The offer just wasn’t there.’’
Major League baseball, unlike most other professional sports, regularly draft young athletes and develop them in their own minor league farm systems. Students like Ayala who are capable of attending college can face the task of choosing between using a college scholarship and playing NCAA baseball versus going pro and working at baseball full-time in the minor leagues.
Ayala said if he agreed to sign with Major League Baseball, he would have to leave within days for the team’s rookie league and forgo college for now. If he attends college, Ayala can be drafted again after his junior year at UCSB