For head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan, losing recruits to the MLB Draft is just part of the job and something he has to plan ahead for. However, when Will Muschamp has a player sign a national letter of intent he can normally count on that player enrolling at Florida.
Well, Muschamp might want to give coach O’Sullivan a call and find out how he handles missing out on these players, because two-sport star Nick Washington from Trinity Catholic high school is projected to be an early selection in the 2013 MLB Draft and will have a very tough decision to make in the coming weeks.
Washington was a highly rated safety prospect who committed to Florida for football all the way back in February of last year. Washington committed to Coach Muschamp with the expectation that he would be able to play two sports at Florida and that’s a conversation he has had with Coach O’Sullivan as well.
“We sat down and had a conversation about it [playing two sports at Florida] and everyone is on the same page,” Washington said.
Washington starred at Trinity Catholic in Jacksonville both as a safety on the football field and as an outfielder on the diamond. He found his power stroke at the plate in his senior season which he added to his already blazing speed and defensive skills in the outfield.
His senior season drew the attention of MLB scouts who have told Washington he should expect to be drafted between the eighth and tenth rounds this week. Washington has had the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners all call to gauge his interest about signing a professional contract versus playing professional baseball.
Washington has also worked out for the Astros and Cubs with his workout for the Cubs coming on Mother’s Day. The Cubs organization got in touch with the Washington family on Friday night before Mother’s Day and invited him to a private workout that Sunday.
While some moms wouldn’t be to thrilled about having to change their plans on Mother’s Day, Mrs. Washington was happy to have Nick attend the workout. The family drove up to Atlanta, where the workout was being held, on Saturday and on Sunday, Washington worked out in a small group of about 20 players and was one of just five high school players in attendance.
While Washington said he doesn’t have a preference of playing football or baseball, his mom told GatorCountry that Nick does have a first love.
“I don’t want to speak for him but baseball is his first love,” Mrs. Washington said. “However, Florida is no slouch. Playing in the SEC and the fact that it is the Florida Gators is something that is very difficult to turn down.”
And Washington sure does love being a Gator. After committing to Florida early on in the recruiting process, Washington played a part in bringing Ahmad Fulwood and several other players with him to Gainesville. The coaching staff should send him a big thank you letter for doing as good of a job as recruiting players as they did. Not to mention Washington ended our phone call with a “Go Gators.” Needless to say, passing up the opportunity to play at Florida would be a very difficult choice.
Another factor that is unique to Washington but not to all baseball recruits is the fact that he has a full scholarship to college. Division 1-baseball programs can only give out a maximum of 11.7 scholarships to fill out their roster. This means that most of the team will be on partial athletic scholarships, something MLB scouts can use to their advantage when negotiating a contract.
With the MLB Draft scheduled for later this week, Washington will get a phone call from a pro baseball team this week and will be offered the kind of money that can be life changing. Washington hasn’t made up his mind one way or the other but is preparing himself for what he expects to be a very difficult decision.
“I feel like it will be a tough decision,” Washington said. “Obviously I had a nice discussion with my parents to kind of see where they are and what they are thinking about.”
The MLB Draft is more subdued than the amateur drafts that the NFL or NBA hold, with most of the picks simply being announced online, so Washington doesn’t have any big plans to hold a draft party this week.
“I’m probably just going to sit back, watch the draft with my parents and see what happens,” Washington said.
Washington and his family won’t be the only people sitting around waiting for a phone call. Coach Muschamp, Coach O’Sullivan and Gator Nation will anxiously await an official decision from Washington about his future plans.
With a strong family support system as well as the support of two coaches at Florida, Washington will make the best decision for both himself and for his family. Whether that means going to college or turning pro remains to be seen but Washington will always be a Gator.