Potential first-round Major League Baseball draft pick Mike Vasil of Boston College High told USA TODAY Sports that he will honor his commitment to the University of Virginia, regardless of what happens when in the draft, which begins June 4.
In an email sent out to evaluators from all 30 MLB teams, thanking them for taking the time to get to know him this spring, Vasil asked to be withdrawn from consideration.
“A baseball career doesn’t last forever, and as I think about my future I realize that I want to be known as more than just a good player,” he wrote. “Attending the University of Virginia will afford me the tools for the next phase of my life. Not only will it prepare me for a potential career in the MLB, but will also provide me with other excellent career opportunities. It will shape me to become a ‘professional’.”
“To be honest, back when I initially committed, I fell in love with the school immediately,” Vasil, a senior righthander and an ALL-USA Preseason First-Team selection, told USA TODAY. “Even with all the things that have happened over the summer, with the major league teams and the hype and everything, I don’t know if any amount of money could pull me away from attending college.”
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Vasil, a Wellesley, Mass., resident, has been pegged as a late first-rounder for much of the last year. Baseball America’s latest Top 500 draft prospect rankings have him listed at No. 37 overall, down eight spots from where he was at the start of the spring season.
Vasil committed to Virginia in the fall of 2015, months after the Cavaliers won the College World Series, and signed a National Letter of Intent with the program last November. Scouts have raved about the surgical location on his fastball, which has comfortably sat at 93-96 mph this spring, to go with a low-80s changeup and a drooping curveball. One American League scout earlier this spring told USA TODAY that Vasil has potential as a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues.
Vasil’s father, Greg, said the family did not set any terms with MLB teams on what it would take to sign him. But, he said, they have had “serious monetary discussions” in potential deals within the top 20 designated salary slots as set by MLB. The assigned value for this year’s 20th overall pick, which belongs to the Minnesota Twins, is $3.12 million. The Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres have expressed the most interest, Mike said.
“Our approach was simple. Everybody in this industry talks about a number, and to me, it’s like, how do I sell myself out for a number?” the elder Vasil said. “We’ve had serious interest early in the first round and the back end of the first round, and it’s been fascinating to us. But we never said, ‘Give us X dollars and that’s it.’ It’s always, what do you think he’s worth? And that’s been a fascinating discussion.”
Within Massachusetts, pundits and long-time coaches have compared Vasil to some of the Bay State’s all-time greatest prep arms, from Jeff Juden to Jeff Allison and Tyler Beede.
Beede, of course, was the most recent Massachusetts high school pitcher to get taken in the first round, and famously drew ire when he turned down a $2.4 million signing bonus from the Toronto Blue Jays after getting selected 20th overall. He went on to lead Vanderbilt to its first national title in 2014, and was taken 14th overall that year by the San Francisco Giants.
Coming off a dominant 2017 campaign in which he went 9-0 with a 0.51 ERA, Vasil came into the spring with heavy hype, including a Preseason ALL-USA selection with USA TODAY. But after a brilliant first start in which he carried a perfect game into the final out, Vasil ran into trouble in his second start, leaving the game in the second inning with arm troubles. He remained in the lineup as an everyday position player, but did not make another start for a month.
Vasil said the injury played no part in his decision, and that many scouts had suggested to him throughout their conversations that he should head to Charlottesville if he’s not 100 percent in on turning pro.
“Obviously I have a little doubt — I’m still an 18-year-old kid,” he said. “It’s a whole different lifestyle that the minors bring. They said, if you have the slightest bit of doubt, or you’re unsure, go to college. A lot of them said that.”
Concerns about over-usage – in addition to playing in the field and hitting in the middle of the Eagles’ order, Vasil came out of the bullpen for a save two days prior to the injury – may have been assuaged when he returned to the mound last Tuesday. On a 50-pitch limit, Vasil struck out six in four innings, allowing just one hit.
“I wasn’t left disappointed,” said an AL scout. “I wished his curve was a little better, but again, he came back just fine. The next start will bear more weight for me than that one.”
Vasil will make one more start before the MLB draft, on Tuesday against Lowell High.