Local Baseball: White Will Pitch for WSU
Draft Dodger: W.F. West Alum Will Forgo Professional Opportunity for College Offer
By Jordan Nailon
After being selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th round of the Major League Baseball draft last month, Brandon White has opted to continue his career at Washington State University instead of joining the pro circuit.
“For me it wasn’t that much of a decision because the Dodgers didn’t sign their first rounder so they didn’t have any money left over to do anything for me,” explained White, a 2018 graduate of W.F. West.
A power right handed pitcher who stands 6’8” and regularly reaches 91 miles per hour on the radar gun, White was a verbal commit to WSU prior to being selected by the Dodgers last month with the 434th pick of the draft. Last spring, White compiled a 7-2 record with a 0.64 ERA and helped the Bearcats to a third place finish at the State 2A Baseball Tournament. In 55 innings of work, he struck out 92 batters and limited hitters to just a .137 batting average. For those accomplishments, White was honored as the co-MVP of The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Baseball team.
White says his interest in playing professional baseball piqued after his selection in June but he took his time contemplating which path would be better for his future. On one hand, he has visions of studying engineering and WSU had already offered to pay for his schooling and reserved him a slot on the baseball team. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Dodgers were offering to pay him money to play a child’s game at the highest levels of competition, along with the considerable carrot of perhaps one day making his way atop a mound in the big leagues.
According to White, his decision to, at least temporarily, forgo a professional baseball contract came down to guaranteed money.
Although he declined to talk specific amounts, White says he and the Dodgers had engaged in discussions prior to the draft about what sort of signing bonus they’d be able to offer him. When draft day came around though, White was selected a few rounds later than the Dodgers had indicated. Then, when it came time to sign on the dotted line, the Dodgers were unable to match that preliminary number to White.
That shortfall was largely due to the complicated logistics of how money is allocated by teams to secure player rights through the draft. Major League Baseball teams are allotted a predetermined amount of money prior to each draft in order to sign draftees from the first 10 rounds. That money is divided up by draft slot with earlier picks awarded a larger sum of money for their signing bonus. However, if a team fails to reach an agreement with a draftee in those first 10 rounds they not only lose out on the player but also on the money allocated for that particular slot.
This year, the Dodgers failed to sign J.T. Ginn, their first pick (30th overall) and a fellow high school hurler. Ginn was reportedly offered around $125,000 more than the $2,275,800 assigned to his slot by the Dodgers but turned down the offer in order to attend Mississippi State University.
That decision by Ginn cost the Dodgers the $2,275,800 in slot money that they would have otherwise been able to spend on other prospective players, like White. Once White learned that the Dodgers had failed to sign Ginn, he says he began to see the crimson and gray writing on the wall more clearly.
White says he made his decision to attend WSU during the first week of July and the university made the official announcement on July 11 in a press release.
“I am excited to head to Washington State, meet new people, play the game I love and help WSU compete for a national championship,” White was quoted saying in the WSU release. “I’ve always been a Coug fan, I really like the city of Pullman, the coaching staff and the Washington State campus. College is a great route to go, it will give me a chance to further my education, compete at a high level in the Pac-12, develop as a pitcher and prepare for a career in professional baseball.”
White said that while the MLB draft process was exciting, like when he flew to L.A. to pitch at Dodger Stadium in a pre-draft workout, he never became caught up in the hoopla of the high stakes spectacle.
“The thing for me was, and my (draft) adviser was telling me too, the draft is awesome and exciting and it’s a great experience and everything but don’t get over-excited and start thinking you’re going to do this or that because you really don’t know,” explained White. “So going into it I was like, “Well I’m either going to get the money I want and everything is going to be great, or I won’t and I’ll go to school.’ The whole time I’ve been excited about either option. It’s really been a win-win for me.”
One added bonus to choosing WSU over professional baseball is that White will be able to share the field again with Tyson Guerrero, his former W.F. West teammate who is also taking his talents to the diamond in Pullman.
“With the whole draft thing it was really tough. I’d already verbally committed when (Guerrero) was being talked to and that was one of the big things was that we could go together and dorm together and play baseball together. That seemed like an opportunity that was going to be pretty cool,“ noted White. “Once I got drafted, it got complicated.”
Now that he’s committed to attending WSU and playing Division I college baseball for the foreseeable future, White is again getting amped up to play ball with his high school teammate.
“Tyson is over there right now and I was supposed to go over there June 20th but I was told that if I went, if you go on a college campus at all, you won’t be able to sign so I just told the WAZZU coach that I was going to wait and see what happened with the draft,” said White,. “I’m looking forward to going to class and going to play ball with Guerrero. Not many people can say that two guys from a high school are going to play Division I college ball, let alone at the same school.”
White said he has been working on a throwing program prescribed to him by his WSU coaches this summer while also pitching for his hometown I-5 Toyota/Mountain Dew American Legion team as both a starter and occasional closer. Although he’s not certain what his future will hold, White says he intends to compete for a spot in the starting rotation for the Cougars as soon as possible.
White will be draft eligible again after he turns 21 and says he hopes to improve his draft stock during his time at WSU. Specifically, he says he’d like to add some weight to his angular 6’8”, 190 pound frame in order to add stamina and power to his trove of tools on the mound. He also plans on working on his changeup, being able to spot up his pitches on command, and improving his prowess for slowing the running game of speedy opponents.
“Even before the draft all the guys told me that I was looked at as a project. I’m not fully developed so it was kind of a gamble. I guess we’ll see what happens three years from now,” said White, who is set to report to Pullman the second week of August. Classes begin around Aug. 20 and baseball practices will start up a couple of weeks thereafter. He says he knows there are many people who don’t understand his decision to pass up an opportunity to play baseball for money, but he is adamant that those judgements do not bother him.
“There’s always people out there who are saying, ‘Oh you’re dumb for not going.’ And then there’s people who say if you do go then you’re going to miss out on college,” said White. “You’re never going to make everybody happy.”