After getting word from several different major league baseball organizations that he would definitely get selected in the MLB Free Agent Amateur Draft last week, Fabian Roman plopped himself in front of his personal computer to follow the proceedings.
“The [Chicago] White Sox told me that they would take me in the 12th round,” said Roman, the Marist High School pitching ace. “The [Philadelphia] Phillies told me any time between the 10th and 15th rounds. The [Kansas City] Royals told me that I was a 10th round pick.”
So Roman was poised to hear his name called during the first half of the first day of the draft. He sat in front of the computer and waited to hear his name.
But Roman waited. And waited. And waited some more.
Finally, the first day of the draft was finished on Thursday, with 30 full rounds being completed, and Roman didn’t get selected.
“It discouraged me a little bit,” Roman said. “I really felt like giving up. I had such high expectations of getting picked the first day and when it didn’t happen, I kind of got nervous. I was so disappointed that I collapsed into a little shell and didn’t want to come out.”
And Roman did the unthinkable.
“After I didn’t see or hear my name, I turned the computer off,” Roman said. “I basically gave up. I was disappointed because basically they all brought my hopes up. I had no excitement left, no emotion.”
However, there were two days in the draft and on the second day, the Kansas City Royals made good on their promise to Roman, albeit a day and a few rounds late. The Royals took Roman with their pick in the 36th round.
It wasn’t the 10th round, nor the 20th, but Roman was selected all the same, the first Marist High School pitcher to get selected in the draft since 1993, when two Marist hurlers, DeVohn Duncan (14th round, San Diego Padres) and David Weber (30th round, Chicago Cubs) were taken. The Chicago White Sox picked future MLB ace reliever Joe Borowski out of Marist in the 32nd round exactly 20 years ago in 1989.
Infielder Bobby Powers was taken out of Marist by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 50th round of the 1992 MLB Draft.
After Roman realized he was picked by the Royals, he began to change his mind about his disappointment and his emotions.
“I started to hear the good side about being drafted from my coach [Ron Hayward],” Roman said. “He told me that not everyone gets a chance to get drafted.”
Hayward should know. In 2000, He had to wait until the 30th round until he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds out of Bishop State Community College in Alabama. Hayward didn’t sign a pro contract, electing to attend William Paterson College, and didn’t get drafted again when his time at William Paterson ended.
“I knew that he could relate to it,” Roman said. “Once you get drafted, everyone starts in the same position, regardless of what round. I’m going to get my shot, so now, I’m pretty pumped.”
Roman has had several college scholarship offers to ponder, but more than likely, he believes he will sign with the Royals in the coming weeks. He knows that his 94-mile per hour fastball is still popping, even though he has been battling a bit of a sore arm, citing the arm woes as the reason why he chose not to attend the New Jersey Scholastic Baseball Coaches Association’s All-Star Classic last weekend.
“I went to therapy instead of going to the All-Star game,” Roman said. “I was upset that I couldn’t make it.”
The one aspect of Roman’s pitching performances of late that has drawn some concern is the lack of control he has displayed.
“I’ve been working on my control,” Roman said. “I’ve been doing a lot of different drills to get my control in gear, like towel drills and throwing to a box on a wall. I’m not throwing full speed, just throwing to get more control.”
Roman will head to a tournament in North Carolina next week, where he will pitch in front of the Royals’ scouting department in an attempt to improve his possible contract standing.
“Maybe I can raise my stock just a little,” Roman said.
Roman said that he is not familiar with Eric Diaz, the former Ferris pitcher and New Mexico College hurler who was also drafted by the Royals last week. It’s pretty amazing that one organization could take two pitchers from Jersey City – and the two don’t know each other.
“He was a senior at Ferris when I was a sophomore,” Roman said. “It is pretty wild.”
Roman said that he feels grateful to be receiving the chance to become a professional baseball player, even if the plans were somewhat sidetracked for a day.
“That’s why I’m a little hesitant about going to college,” Roman said. “I realize that I may never get my chance like this ever again. I feel like I’ve done my job and I had a lot of people help me out along the way. I have to make the most of this chance right now.”
Others in his position, like Borowski, made the most of the opportunity. The ball is in Fabian Roman’s court – and hands – right now. – Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.