Elite pitching prospect Adam Plutko was at ease in the hectic minutes leading up to Major League Baseball's signing deadline Monday night.
Things just weren't going to work out. Plutko knew it. The Houston Astros, the team that used its sixth-round pick to select him in June's draft, knew it. He was heading to UCLA, contract negotiations between the two sides breaking down a week prior to the deadline.
"I was pretty relaxed, actually," said Plutko, a right-hander who was named the CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year this past spring. "We had talked multiple times and we couldn't come to an agreement on everything. (Monday) wasn't too bad, it wasn't what most people probably thought it would be like."
But just because the decision didn't come down to the final seconds doesn't mean it was easy. Plutko admitted that it was hard for him to turn down the Astros' offer, though he declined to elaborate on the specifics of the deal.
The bottom line: Houston's loss is UCLA's gain. Head coach John Savage adds a highly touted pitcher after losing five important arms this offseason.
"You're talking about a guy who can step in and compete for a weekend job," Savage said Monday. "We think this guy is an impact guy who has made major strides. We're ecstatic that Adam first chose UCLA and has now decided to attend."
Plutko said he looks forward to arriving on campus and working with Savage, who is regarded as one of the best pitching coaches in the country. He comes to Westwood with a chip on his shoulder.
Plutko went 10-1 and posted a 1.36 ERA last season, leading Glendora High to the CIF Division II title.
"I've been on a team that no one really likes," he said. "As far as having a target on my back, I feel like I've always played with that.
"The fact that (UCLA) can go back to Omaha continuously is a part that really enticed me to come."