It has been quite a week for Sam Stafford.
On Friday, he started and won Texas’ opening game of the Austin Regional against Princeton. Monday, he again led a winning effort, throwing three innings against Kent State for the regional championship.
Oh, and he became a New York Yankee on Tuesday.
The junior pitcher’s name was called No. 88 overall on the second day of the First-Year Player Draft by the Yankees, the most successful organization in professional, American sports.
“Who wouldn’t want to be drafted by the Yankees?” Stafford said. “To go from the University of Texas to New York is awesome. I couldn’t imagine myself going to a better ballclub.”
Stafford admits he does have a decision to make, alluding to the fact that Cole Green was selected in the fourth round of the draft last year and turned down a six-figure signing bonus for the opportunity to return to school. But the amount of money the Yankees may throw at him, plus the opportunity to play in New York, could be too much to turn down.
“I’ve always been a Yankee fan,” he said. “I’ve always loved to watch them play. They play great baseball.”
Stafford was in junior shortstop Brandon Loy’s room following the draft updates on his computer when he saw New York was on the clock.
“I looked at that and said, ‘Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t mind playing for them,” he said.
Then he looked back at the computer screen, and he saw his name.
“I got a call from their guy to tell me that they had selected me, but he heard Brandon screaming in the background so he figured I already had found out,” Stafford said.
And then his phone started blowing up.
“I’ve talked to all the immediate family already; they’re excited,” he said. “I’ve also gotten texts from the teammates. We’ve got a bunch of guys who are Yankee fans and they think I’ll look good in pinstripes.”
Ironically, Stafford was drafted out of high school by the Yankees’ arch nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, in the 40th round of the draft. He elected to go to school and, after two seasons spent as a reliever, has put together a solid year as a starter. His 1.57 ERA ranks second on the team among the starting pitchers, and opponents hit .188 against him this season.
Safe to say, he made the right decision. Not only has his draft stock improved substantially, but he has the opportunity to help the Longhorns chase their seventh College World Series Championship.
“Being drafted is a dream of mine,” he said. “But at the same time, you have to focus on maybe even a more exciting thing — chasing the dream of a national championship. I feel fantastic.”