Some figured Dominic de la Osa had everything to lose and nothing to gain by returning to Vanderbilt for his senior baseball season.
The exact opposite has taken place, the senior right fielder said this week.
After producing an All-America season in 2007, de la Osa was selected in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball Draft last June by the Detroit Tigers.
Unable to agree to financial terms with the Tigers, de la Osa became a college baseball rarity: A proven star back for a fourth year.
From the start, de la Osa said his decision wasn’t based only on money.
“I really came back just to have fun,” he said. “It was my last year of college baseball to just play and not worry about much. The way we battled back and the way we’ve pulled together as a team, it’s been really cool. I’ve had a good time.”
Playing as a senior has allowed de la Osa, a native of Miami, to become Vanderbilt’s all-time hits leader over the weekend as the Commodores swept Tennessee in a three-game series.
With a double in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game, his career hits total ballooned to 284. He’s also the career record-holder with 62 doubles.
The 2008 season hasn’t always been rosy, however.
De la Osa’s statistics have dipped since his impressive performance of 2007 when he batted .378, smashed 20 home runs, drove in 63 runs and stole 23 bases. He’s currently batting .315 with six home runs, 34 RBIs and 22 steals.
Before the season began, VU coach Tim Corbin cautioned de la Osa that a duplication of 2007 might not occur.
“I told him that he may not reach that level again,” Corbin said. “That’s nothing to be ashamed about. That’s how it is in baseball.”
De la Osa seems to be saving his best for last. He’s batting .459 in the past 10 games and rapped out five hits over the weekend at Tennessee.
“You can see right now he’s catching fire,” Corbin said. “When it’s all said and done, I think you’re going to see that he’s put up some very comparable numbers to what he did last year.”
De la Osa’s life off the field is proving to be just as rewarding. He completed classes at Vanderbilt last week and will participate in commencement ceremonies with several teammates he considers his best friends.
“How many high-caliber college baseball players like him get a chance to do that?” Corbin said. “He’s going to earn his degree and will have a chance to play pro baseball.
“I realize that a certain amount of money can cause someone to a pick a different route, but in his case it wasn’t the right amount of money and wasn’t the right situation. With Dominic, he trusted his decision and felt like going back to Vanderbilt could only be a plus.”
Now in the twilight of a record-setting career as a Commodore, de la Osa said his best might still be yet to come.
And this summer, he’ll again explore his professional options.
“Everything will work out in the end,” de la Osa said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Vanderbilt [34-13] vs. Memphis [16-31]