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Matt Gorgen taken in the 16th round of the MLB Draft

With the first selection of the 16th round (the 473rd overall), the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Bears closer Matt Gorgen.  Congrats, Matt, and to the whole Gorgen family (Matt's twin brother Scott was taken by the Cardinals in the 4th round).

Here, now, lies an interesting choice.  I fully expect the three Bears taken yesterday to sign professional contracts (especially given that Josh Satin is a senior), but I'm not so sure that Gorgen will (or should) do the same.

Generally, players taken this far down in the draft are not really considered "prospects".  Instead, they're considered "organizational" guys, signed mostly to fill out rosters and such, so that the real prospects have someone to play against.  Yes, guys drafted this low do make the majors, and may even have great careers (Mike Piazza was famously drafted in the 52nd 62nd round), but the odds are long.

While there's no guarantee that either Cooper or Ross, taken in the top 2 rounds, will ever make the majors, they're both likely to get hefty signing bonuses to start out and a great opportunity to succeed; for them, going pro is not really a very tough decision (if the option to come back to school comes up at all, it'll only be as negotiating leverage by their agent to get more money).

Gorgen, however, is not likely to see anything resembling a financial windfall from Tampa Bay.  He can certainly leave now and chase his dream, and I don't think any of us would begrudge him that choice.  There's always a risk with returning to school of getting injured and not getting drafted at all next year, and pitchers certainly worry about that.  However, given his relatively long odds of making the majors, if he doesn't already have his degree, I might recommend he come back for his senior year and get that first.  Heck, he might even improve his draft stock, getting himself a better contract next year.  For him, there's little financial incentive to turn pro right now, so unless he's dead set on playing pro ball now, I'd suggest he return to school.

Then again, if the A's offered me a contract right now for $20K per year, I'd totally quit my job and move to Midland, TX or wherever.  Chasing your dream can be a powerful thing.

Again, congrats to Matt, and good luck!  Go Bears!

EDIT:  Looks like in my haste to get out of the Bay Area for the weekend, I missed a couple Bears that got drafted earlier on Friday.  The Rockies took pitcher Craig Benningson in the 9th round (do pitchers fear getting drafted by Colorado?), and the Cardinals took catcher/left-fielder Charlie Cutler in the 14th round.  The article goes on to say that while Cutler is definitely turning pro, Gorgen and Benningson have not yet decided to do so, although Gorgen has hinted that he would not be coming back for his senior season.

In any case, a belated congrats to both Craig and Charlie!