The hours leading up to tonight's midnight deadline for Major League Baseball teams to sign draft picks wasn't as nerve-wracking for Auburn's Tyler Beede as one might think. If anything, the Blue Jays first round pick described today as "kinda boring".
After not hearing from the Jays organization all day, Beede got up off his couch at 10 p.m. and took a walk to St. Joseph's Church in downtown Auburn, where he said a prayer for the families of fellow draft picks Daniel Norris and Kevin Comer, as well as his own (both Norris and Comer ended up signing).
Then at 11:15, he got his first call from the Blue Jays with an offer of $2 million. Beede didn't budge from the $3.5 million asking price he said he'd decided on early in the process. Five minutes before midnight, the Jays called back with their final bullet, a take-it-or-leave-it $2.5 million bonus.
And in what was "one of the hardest decisions I'll ever have to make", Beede stood pat. But there are no regrets.
"I can't lie, obviously money was a factor, and whoever says it isn’t is lying," he said. "I obviously value my Vanderbilt education very highly, and I stuck to my guns. I stuck to my number, and it just didn’t get to that point. I'm tremendously excited about the opportunity at Vanderbilt. I couldn’t be happier, and that's the most important thing in my decision. My family was going to be happy for me if I was happy, and I've got great friends around me to get me through this.
"Some people are not happy; 2.5 million dollars, that's a lot of money for a lot of people, but my situation is different from most 18-year-olds. I've got Vanderbilt to fall back on, it's one of the best baseball schools in the country and one of best schools for academics in the country. I believe going down there will be the best thing for me and my future. I've got three years there, I'll be playing in the SEC and against some of the best players in the country, weekend in and weekend out."
Beede leaves for Nashville on Friday, and moves into his dormitory on Saturday. He confirmed that he hasn't been in any summer classes, instead opting to work out with his long-time strength trainer Eric Cressey at his Hudson-based Cressey Performance facility.
Prior to the draft, Beede sent out a letter to every Major League scout in New England saying he is committed to the Commodores, and asked teams not to contact him. At the time, the move was viewed by some as a ploy to get him to fall to a particular team, though in hindsight that doesn't look to be the case. As for the high figure -- a figure he says he calculated with the aide of his grandfather, a retired insurance adjuster -- Beede says that was made clear early-on as well.
"I thought we made teams well aware, well before the draft," Beede said. "The letter I signed was serious. We really honored that commitment, Vanderbilt is opportunity that's very important to me, and something I'm taking seriously. It was going to take a lot to get me away from that education."
After leading his hometown Auburn High to a state title in 2009, Beede transferred to Lawrence Academy for his final two years of high school, where he drew up to 40 scouts at each of his starts this spring. On a historical perspective, he was often mentioned in the same breath as some of the Bay State's all-time greats, such as Tom Glavine, Jeff Allison and Jeff Reardon. Scouts raved about his three plus-pitches, including a fastball that touches 95 miles per hour, and labeled him as having big league potential in a few short years.
When he is eligible for the draft again in 2014, it's possible he could play himself into a top-ten selection. That, of course, is assuming he stays healthy.
"I know I'm going to get the questions, 'Do you think you're gonna get injured?', or 'Do you wanna be a first-rounder again?', I can tell you that's not in my head at all," Beede said. "I'm just trying to go down and win a World Series for coach [Tim] Corbin, those guys deserve it this year, that's what I'm thinking."