Standing in the shadow of both Kyle Field and Bluebell Park last July, 2013 Texas A&M Aggies quarterback signee Kohl Stewart minced no words when talking about his future plans.
"I think that I'm going to look pretty good in maroon and white playing in Bluebell Park -- that's all I gotta say," the St. Pius X quarterback and pitcher told SB Nation Recruiting at the Fox Sports Southwest 7-on-7 State Championship in College Station.
The decision is about to get significantly more difficult for the 6'3 prospect who used his arm strength to hit virtually all parts on the field on fall Friday nights and can touch 96 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball during the spring.
On Monday, Stewart announced on his Twitter page that he had picked up a big invitation:
Got the invite to the 2013 MLB Draft. It's starting to get real— Kohl Stewart (@KohlStewart1) April 15, 2013
Other prospects in such positions typically take similar stances to that employed by Stewart -- saying definitively in advance of the MLB Draft that they're going to go to college and often maintaining that position for some time afterwards. Not only does it allow them to escape the resulting firestorm on message boards, but it also adds to their leverage in contract negotiations.
And Stewart looks like he will be in a position to negotiate a substantial contract, though the 2011 collective bargaining agreement cut down on signing bonuses for top prospects by instituting a bonus pool for the high picks that includes a tax for teams that exceed it.
Rated in some places as the top pitcher in the draft, the current expectation is that Stewart will be a top-10 pick in the draft, with Perfect Game slotting him in the number two slot. The 10th pick in 2012 had a slot signing bonus value of $2.7 million, while value for the second pick was $6.2 million.
The president of Perfect Game, Jerry Ford, told the Houston Chronicle that the A&M signee has significant upside:
The only thing we know is he definitely has the ability to be the ace of a pitching staff in the big leagues someday. How that develops - there isn't a scout in the world that can predict accurately. But he's got the tools.
Beyond money, there are several other factors in the equation for Stewart.
A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel could bolt for the NFL after the 2013 football season, potential leaving Stewart the opportunity to earn the starting job after redshirting for a year. He also comes from a family full of Aggies.
But Stewart could also opt for baseball and still return to play college football at a later time, following in the footsteps of successful college quarterbacks like Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden. In that sense, Stewart could hedge his bets for the future by giving himself the option to both play baseball professionally and then return to college football later if it doesn't work out.
Things are about to get real for Kohl Stewart, and that realness will likely include a massive signing bonus that would guarantee him long-term financial stability.
As honest as he was probably being last summer, can he really turn down millions of dollars, all with no guarantee that he could achieve similar earnings in a possible NFL career?
A&M will find out in several months.
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