Vanderbilt might land Jason Esposito, after all.
Less than a week after indicating he would sign with the Kansas City Royals, the VU baseball recruit now says he plans to be a Commodore.
The Royals selected Esposito in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft earlier this month. According to reports, Esposito turned down a signing-bonus offer of $1.5 million.
“I wanted to take it,” Esposito told the New Haven Register.. “But then emotions settled down and you put things into perspective. Do I want to go off and play professional baseball at 17 years old? This is the best possible situation. It will benefit me in the long run.”
Esposito earned Gatorade Connecticut Baseball Player of the Year honors in 2008 after batting .441 with nine home runs at Amity High in Bethany, Conn.
If he does indeed attend Vanderbilt, Esposito is expected to make a push for a starting job at third base or shortstop, positions of need for the Commodores.
VU starting third baseman Pedro Alvarez was selected No. 2 overall in the recent draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, while shortstop Ryan Flaherty was nabbed with the No. 41 overall pick by the Chicago Cubs. Both are expected to sign pro deals this summer and skip their senior seasons at Vanderbilt.
“I love the program and what they have to offer,” Esposito said of Vanderbilt. “I’m not going to get any worse going there. I’m only going to get better.”
Another standout Vanderbilt recruit, shortstop Anthony Hewitt of the Salisbury [Conn.] School, still appears to be pro-bound after being selected No. 24 overall this month by the Philadelphia Phillies.
On draft day, Hewitt said he hoped to sign with the Phillies.
“I think he’s a major leaguer, and he wants to get his career going as quickly as possible,” Salisbury coach Mark Leavitt told PhillyBurbs.com.
Hewitt batted .536 batting average with eight home runs in 2008.
Major League teams have until Aug. 15 to sign draft picks.
Vanderbilt has already lost relief pitcher Brett Jacobson, who will bypass his senior season after he signed with the Detroit Tigers last week.
Jacobson, drafted in the fourth round this month, was 2-4 with a 5.09 earned-run average in 2008. He was drafted in the 11th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school in 2005 before choosing to sign with Vanderbilt.