Diodati sticks to the plan
When Owen Diodati was contacted by the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this week, he had to make the biggest decision of his life in a matter of minutes.
The Jays called the 17-year-old Niagara Falls native and made a significant financial offer, attempting to gauge his interest should they select him in the Major League Baseball draft.
“I had discussions with the Jays in the early rounds where they offered me big-time money — second- and third-round slot round money — and that was where the hard decision kind of came in,” Diodati said. “I had to make the decision whether I was going to go to school or go pro.
“It was a decision that took some real thought, but I came to the decision I was still going to Alabama.”
Diodati, who had already committed to the University of Alabama on an athletic scholarship starting in the fall, admitted it was tough to make such a life-altering decision on the spot.
“I only had minutes to make the decision,” he said. “You put numbers in place and you kind of figure out those things before the draft so that when you have to make that split-second decision you already know your answer.
“It was definitely harder coming from the Jays being a unique situation as the hometown team but I had a plan going in and stuck to it.”
The Jays passed on the left-handed hitting catcher in the early rounds but did select him in the 29th round of the draft.
“For the Jays to still draft me later was a courtesy-type pick,” Diodati said. “It was classy of them. It shows what kind of organization they are and how classy they are and how much they like me as a person.
“It’s a really good relationship with them going into the draft in another three years.”
College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old, are eligible for the draft.
Once he made the decision to attend school, Diodati said there was no second guessing.
“I’ve been happy with it since I made it. As soon as I hung up the phone with my adviser, it was a relief,” he said. “I felt I made the right decision and haven’t looked back and it’s on to the next thing.
“There’s no sense in looking back at it. I’ve got a lot of baseball left in my career and I’m moving forward on to a new set of goals.”
Diodati knew he was in the driver’s seat with the scholarship in his back pocket.
“I knew either way it was a win-win situation,” he said. “Before the draft, I wasn’t really worried. Whatever happened, happened. I wasn’t too concerned about making that decision.”
For now, the Grade 12 student at A.N. Myer will go back to the Great Lake Canadians, who are based in London, before heading to Alabama July 1 for a month of summer school and training camp.
“All our recruits do it. It’s a good opportunity to get used to the school, get your lifting in and get into the routine of what you’re going to do all year around,” he said.
From there, it’s off to Australia for Team Canada training camp for a week which will be used to select the squad for the world junior championships in South Korea.
“I’m so grateful. It’s a really humbling experience to be able to go through all this,” he said.
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