The Right Choice

By Owen Diodati

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I was recently faced with a difficult choice.

Accept the draft offer from your favorite MLB team or go to college and play college baseball?

For a teenager, this wasn’t an easy decision to make.

Frankly, for most ambitious athletes this would likely be a tough call. 

While it was a decision that took a lot of time and consideration, I believe 100% I made the correct move.

Pro baseball had to wait.

College baseball, here I come. 

Family Influence

Ever since I was a little kid, playing professional baseball has been my dream. 

While my dad was my coach, it was my grandpa who was the professional athlete in the family and inspired this dream of mine from a young age.

He played in the NHL for the Sabres and the North Stars. As a little kid, I thought this was so cool! 

He was like a celebrity that I knew personally and could tell all my friends about. And believe me, I did.

As a teenager, I wanted to be like both my dad and my grandpa. So, I played hockey and baseball for a long time. 

Both sports had something special, but when it came down to it, baseball always had a bit of an edge.

So, in high school, I made the only reasonable decision at this point. 

I committed to baseball full-time.

And fortunately, everyone in my family was supportive of my decision.

In general, throughout my entire athletic career, my parents especially have always been right there for me. To this day, they are my role models and had the most significant influence on me.

As mentioned earlier, my dad was technically my coach. He’d help me with what I did wrong and showed me areas I could improve in. Sometimes, it was a bit of a “tough love” but it was exactly what I needed to progress.

And mom? Mom was the one who would drive me to practice or prepare the pregame meals. After especially painful losses or bad performances, mom was also the one to comfort me.

Both of my parents had a huge impact on my upbringing and athletic career. It’s because of their support that I was able to make it where I’m at now. I’m incredibly grateful for everything they have done for me.

With baseball being my sole focus, I was now pushing towards the next chapter in my career.

But the question was – what is the next chapter?

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Both of my parents had a huge impact on my upbringing and athletic career. It's because of their support that I was able to make it where I'm at now. I'm incredibly grateful for everything they have done for me.

The Right Number

I was drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays, the team I grew up idolizing.

The Blue Jays are the only MLB team to represent Canada, my home country.

Getting drafted is every kid’s dream. Getting drafted by your favorite team is a whole different story! 

So, naturally, I was beyond stoked.

But, I knew I had a tough decision to make. 

On the one hand, I could sign with the Blue Jays and forego college. If I worked hard enough and proved myself in the team’s farm system, I could play for them.

This has worked out for some, but for others, it also ended their baseball careers.

The other option was to go to college and play Division I baseball. I could continue to grow as a player and hope to get drafted again.

The decision was something my family and I thought hard about. 

And finally, we came up with my “number” – the right price of a signing bonus that would get me to give up college and give it a shot.

Toronto came awfully close to that number but was short. As tempting as the offer was, I knew what I had to do in that moment.

And today, looking back, I knew I made the right call.

If you were to put me in the same situation again, knowing what I know now, Toronto could’ve tripled my number, and I still would’ve turned it down.

That’s how happy I am to be at Alabama.

Putting On The Jersey

I had never been to Alabama before coming here. As a Canadian, I thought it might be a culture shock, but that hasn’t been the case.

The people here are so inviting and friendly. It makes home not feel so far away.

While it’s still early in the season, I have been super pleased with the way the team operates. It’s like looking in a mirror.

You have a collection of guys, both coaches and players, who work to get better each day in the same way that I do. They don’t make excuses. No laziness. No slacking.

They’re all focused on the same common goal of winning and getting better. That’s what I love to see. Alabama is definitely where I’m meant to be.

The first couple of games have been a lot of fun. I was looking forward to finally putting on that jersey for the first time in front of our hometown crowd. 

Practices and scrimmages are one thing, but when you’re out there, feeding off that energy from a supportive fan base, it reaffirms why you came here in the first place.

As much as I look forward to my future as a baseball player, nothing beats the here and now.

So, here we go, Roll Tide!

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