By Brent Johnson
BYU head baseball coach Vance Law said last week he would have a better idea about what his team would look like after the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft.
“During the offseason, we have to continue recruiting,” Law said. “We have to wait for the draft to do recruiting, because if you lose guys, you have to fill those holes.”
Law said he thought up to four players could possibly be drafted.
The draft has come and gone, and Law saw only one casualty: pitcher Nick Lemon. Lemon was drafted in the eighth round by the Chicago White Sox Monday, June 7, the 239th pick in the draft.
The 6-3, 195-pound Lemon is a hard-throwing right-hander from Elk Grove, Calif. His fastball has reached speeds as high as 98 mph. The junior now has to make a decision whether he wants to go pro or stay in college for his senior year.
“It”s [playing in the big leagues] a big decision,” Lemon said. “It”s always something I”ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid.”
To complicate matters even more, Lemon is engaged. The big day is scheduled for late July.
“I have to work everything out with my fianc?,” he said.
“It is great for him to have this opportunity if that is what he chooses to do,” Law said in a news release.
Lemon said he will meet with White Sox officials today to discuss his plans.
If he decides to come back to school, Lemon feels there are risks involved.
“I”m 22, and unfortunately scouts look down on age,” Lemon said. “That is why they always go after younger guys.”
However, for some players, the extra year is beneficial. BYU has seen its share of players leave school early. It pays off for some, and backfires for others. David Jensen is one that saw leaving school backfire at him. Jensen was the 2002 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. After his sophomore season in 2002, Jensen was drafted by the Kansas City Royals. He made it to single-A, but was released from the Wilmington Blue Rocks and the Royals organization earlier this year.
Law said players have a lot to contemplate before they make a decision.
“Professional baseball has to make it worth your while to give up school,” Law said. “[Players] have to weigh the options and make sure professionals compensate for that loss [school].”
Lemon feels as though he needs to improve to reach his ultimate goal of playing in the majors.
“There is still a lot of room for improvement if I want and try to make it to the bigs,” he said.
Lemon was not the only player Law expected would go in the draft. Law said in addition to Lemon, he expected all-MWC performers Brandon Taylor and Ryan Chambers and possibly Patrick Wells to be picked up in the draft.