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Millionaire’s chance for Waldrop
Former FHS star takes $1 million Twins offer and heads to Florida rookie league with pitching in his pro baseball future


Kyle Waldrop said becoming a sudden millionaire was “hard to fathom” less than a week after his destination appeared to be Vanderbilt University.

But less than 48 hours after accepting the Minnesota Twins organization’s $1 million signing bonus, the former Farragut High superstar baseball player said the biggest advantage of being the 25th overall pick in the June 7 draft was how it sets him up for entry into the major leagues.

BIG DECISION


The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Waldrop, who is slated to be a full-time pro pitcher, said that if he were chosen as high as the 25th overall pick, “I basically told them I would sign,” he said during a press conference last Thursday. “I just really sat down and thought and prayed about the whole situation, and it just seemed like it was the right choice for me.

“But money’s not what drives me, I just want to go out and play baseball,” Waldrop added. “I’m going to be wise with that (money) and just save it.”

As for the large signing bonus for an 18-year-old fresh out of high school who had no idea he was this valuable a month ago, “that definitely made me open up my eyes a little bit bigger,” Waldrop said. “If they’re going to invest that much money in you, they’re going to give you every shot to make the major leagues. Being that twenty-fifth pick, they’re not going to give up on you as easily as they might if you’re a (30th)-round pick they give $5,000 to.”

PRO PITCHER

Though featuring a fastball clocked as high as 93 mph, “I need more consistency out of my curveball,” Waldrop said.

Praising Waldrop for keeping focused throughout the 2004 FHS season well enough to post an unbeaten 14-0 record, 0.15 earned run average with 118 strikeout versus only seven walks in 91 total innings of work to lead the state champs, Admiral head coach Tommy Pharr paid Waldrop the ultimate compliment.

“In the seven years I’ve been at Farragut, he’s probably better than anybody I’ve seen,” Pharr said. “Kyle’s a pretty focused kid ... very mature for his age. It (draft talk) probably distracted him some, but not very much. Just a special kid in a lot of ways.”

Waldrop reported to the Twins’ Gulf Coast Rookie League team in Fort Myers, Fla. earlier this week. “I’ll go down there and play until about the last week of August,” he said. “I guess the best case scenario is that I go down to Fort Myers and pitch for maybe a month and they send me back up here to Elizabethton, Tennessee for their next step in rookie ball.”

 

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