Zach Sullivan of Corning said Saturday he will sign a professional baseball contract with the Miami Marlins and join the team’s Gulf Coast League team in Jupiter, Fla., next week.
Sullivan, 18, made the choice to sign with the Marlins instead of attending Stony Brook University, which offered him a baseball scholarship.
“Going into (contract talks) I knew that no matter what they offered, I definitely wanted to go as long as it was right,” Sullivan said. “Once they told me all the information and everything, I just knew I wanted to go.”
Sullivan said he will fly to Florida on Tuesday before signing his contract. After getting some practice time, he hopes to be playing in games with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Marlins by the second week of July.
He said he couldn’t disclose contract terms other than to say he received fifth-round money. The Marlins also offered to pay for four years of college whenever Sullivan decides to attend. Sullivan made the decision after talking to his parents and his adviser, agent Jack Toffey.
The Gulf Coast Marlins started their season June 20. Sullivan will be a late arrival because he didn’t graduate from Corning East High School until Saturday morning. The Gulf Coast League continues play through the end of August.
Sullivan was drafted in the 14th round by the Marlins, 407th overall, on June 7. Miami drafted him as a center fielder and shortstop, though Sullivan said the organization sees him as more of a center fielder. Sullivan played center field this past season for Southern Tier Athletic Conference champion Corning but had previously played shortstop.
“Before the draft I was so anxious and that buildup to the draft was so nerve-wracking,” he said. “Finally the draft came and that happened and it was just a big sigh of relief. ‘OK, that happened.’ I’m really excited and can’t wait to start playing.”
Sullivan batted .417 in the New Balance Area Code Baseball Games last summer in Long Beach, Calif., which helped his draft stock. Major League Baseball scouts attended several of his games this season with the Corning Hawks.
“(Playing pro baseball) is something I never thought about even being able to do until two years ago when everything started to happen,” he said. “Now it’s happening and it’s just a dream come true.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Sullivan batted .500 this past season for Corning, with six doubles, two triples, three home runs, 37 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .573 slugging percentage.
Dylan Manwaring, a 2013 Horseheads graduate, plays third base in the Gulf Coast League with the Braves’ Rookie League team. The Braves and Marlins don’t face each other.
Sullivan said he called Stony Brook head coach Matt Senk soon after he made the choice to sign with the Marlins.
“I had a long conversation with him and thanked him for all the opportunities he gave me,” Sullivan said. “He did so much for me and my family. It was a great opportunity to even have a chance to go to Stony Brook. … He just wants what’s best for me.”
Sullivan said his parents, Jack Sullivan and Lisa Rossi-Sullivan, will drive down to Florida and spend about a week watching him play after he get settled in with the team.
“I talked to guys down there and they’re all down there playing and having a good time,” Sullivan said. “I don’t want this weekend to end because I know it will be awhile before I get to see my family and all my friends and everything. Little bit sad but also getting started on the next chapter of my life. Happy but sad in the same respect.”