Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mahalic's Decision Still Not Made - High School Baseball

Oregon’s top two basketball prospects, Lake Oswego’s Kevin Love and South Medford’s Kyle Singler, decided to pack up and ship out of state for college.

Its top baseball product, Wilson pitcher Joey Mahalic, however, is looking like he will stay in Oregon after high school. According to Mahalic, the 6a player of the year, most likely he will play for the Oregon State Beavers next season.

Drafted in the 32nd round of the draft by the Cleveland Indians, Mahalic realizes that it was his heavy interest in OSU that possibly kept him from being drafted in the higher rounds. Now the Indians will take a look at him during the summer and fall and make him an offer.

“More than likely, though, I’ll end up in Corvallis,” Mahalic says.

With the opportunity to go to any college he wanted to, he stayed away from the decision like Love and Singler to head out of state. “OSU is a great program, and it’s my home state. I feel it’s very important to stay loyal” Mahalic says.

Draft day was a little disappointing for the 6-5, 200 pound former Trojan. “After I saw I wasn’t drafted in the first ten rounds, I just went to sleep,” Mahalic says. After a quick nap, he was greeted with a congratulatory text message from one of his friends. He just got drafted.

The pick by the Indians—“They’re probably my favorite team now,” he laughs—is the cherry on top of one of the best individual season by one of the heaviest publicized players in Oregon baseball history. He won the state player of the year, been the target for scouts, and added a slider to his arsenal that already featured a fastball, changeup and curveball.

Mahalic, who works out everyday—“No exception”, feels he packs even more punch with his bat than he does with his arm. “I think I’m a better hitter than a pitcher,” he says. If he does decide to head down to Corvallis, Mahalic will try to see if he can hit for the Beavers.

A starter his whole life, Beavers coach Pat Casey has said that he sees the right-hander coming in with a middle relief role next season. That doesn’t worry Mahalic. “Whatever I have to do to go out and impress people,” he says.

While the jump from the PIL to the Pac-10 can be intimidating, Mahalic is just worried about what’s happening on the mound. “As long as I’m pitching my game, hitting my spots, it doesn’t matter who’s up to bat.”

All of the awards and the publicity have failed to give the humble Mahalic a big ego. “It’s not something that will make me work less hard,” said Mahalic, who is still figuring out what he is going to do in the summer.

Despite that he dominated every time he took the mound, Mahalic still wishes he could have pitched two more innings. Being the designated hitter in the state playoff loss against Roseburg, Mahalic had to watch from the bench in the sixth as his Trojans gave away a late lead.
“Every run was like a punch to the stomach. It just killed me to watch from the bench,” Mahalic says.

All the attention is bittersweet for the teenager. “It’s tough. I get a lot of phone calls, and I just never get any time for myself,” he says. Mahalic’s decision isn’t something that an average high schooler has to make. However, most high schoolers can’t throw 92 mph.

On one of the biggest days of a teenager’s life, graduation, there was one Trojan absent from the festivities. “I didn’t go. I can’t miss a workout.”

Story by Jesse Severson

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