by Cameron Boon and Andrew Eichenholz
Not many kids have to make a life-altering decision when they graduate high school other than choosing a college to attend. Three members of the Stony Brook baseball team had to deliberate over something far bigger.
They each were drafted by a Major League Baseball squad, giving them a shot at a career of performing in front of thousands upon thousands of fans, day in and day out.
Should they sign a professional baseball contract or accept an athletic scholarship to Stony Brook University?
Johnny Caputo, Daniel Zamora and Ryley MacEachern took a chance and picked Stony Brook.
Now, while hitting the books at the same time that they pitch and swing at baseballs, they must earn that chance again at being picked up by a Big League team.
Who gave up the chance to play professional baseball?
Johnny Caputo, 21, a junior business major, was selected in the 12th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics. A Toronto native, he was the sixth Canadian to get picked that year. (Andrew Eichenholz)
“If you want to play college baseball, you’ve got to go to the [United] States. So, being Canadian, I accepted this a while ago,” Caputo said about playing far away from where he grew up. “It’s not too, too bad; it could be a lot worse. New York is far, but you kind of learn to adjust after awhile.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
“I think the biggest thing that swayed my decision was the business program and the coaching staff,” Caputo, a third baseman, said. “I knew a lot of people who had come to Stony Brook before me, and based off of their recommendations, I figured it would be a good fit for me.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
Both Ryley MacEachern (left) and Daniel Zamora (right) are pitchers for the Seawolves. MacEachern was selected in the 37th round of the 2013 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, while Zamora was chosen in the 27th round of the 2012 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Since they have joined Stony Brook, both have torn the labrum in their pitching shoulders, setting them back in their pursuits of careers in professional baseball. (Andrew Eichenholz)
MacEachern, a 20-year-old sophomore from Massachusetts, showed his talent right off the bat in his debut season, earning a spot on the America East Conference All-Rookie team. “Stony Brook just had more to offer,” MacEachern said about why he did not sign a pro contract when it was on the table. “We both wanted to kind of mature a little bit, on and off the field.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
“I’m back, but my innings aren’t full yet, and I’m throwing as hard as I’ve ever thrown. So, I think the way we looked at it was like, ‘Wow, this could have happened in pro ball, and that would have sucked’,” MacEachern said about recovering from his shoulder injury, which may have ruined any shot he had at making his way up the professional ranks if he had chosen that option. “Now, it happened here, we have a good staff and people behind us, supporting us.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
Zamora, a 21-year old sophomore from California, was forced to sit out for the entirety of last season while he worked his way back from shoulder issues of his own. “I didn’t feel like I was ready to handle a minor league schedule or just do all of that stuff in general,” Zamora said. “I thought college was a really good choice for me.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
Each of Stony Brook’s three former draftees cannot take back their decisions now, but what they can do is put their gloves on and get to work in an effort to earn that opportunity again. “It definitely crosses my mind once in a while, but I don’t regret any decision I’ve made, I’m happy where I am,” Caputo said. “Would it have been cool to sign out of high school? Yeah, but I think I’ve had a lot of cool experiences that outweigh that.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
Stony Brook Head Coach Matt Senk is in his 25th season at Stony Brook, during which he has mentored all three Seawolves (Joe Nathan, Tom Koehler and Nick Tropeano) who have made it to the major leagues, like Caputo, MacEachern and Zamora hope to do. “Everyone always says once you leave, you love him, while you’re here, you hate him,” MacEachern said lightheartedly. “When you’re gone, even while you’re here, he’ll do whatever he can to help you with anything.” (Andrew Eichenholz)
While all three have faced their fair share of obstacles after giving up a shot at being a professional baseball player. all they can do is enjoy the ride. “I think it just helped me,” Zamora said about not signing a professional contract. “Instead of ruining any chances, it helped me as a person, as a player, in any general aspect, it just helped me a lot.” (Andrew Eichenholz)