Masuk's Thomas Milone will sign with Tampa Bay Rays
Updated 12:12 am, Saturday, June 22, 2013
The decision wasn't easy. Thomas Milone chose professional baseball.
Milone said Friday he will sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, who drafted him out of Masuk 97th overall two weeks earlier.
"It was a tough one," said Milone, who passed up UConn for the Gulf Coast League. "It's what I wanted to do. I went with it."
The center fielder said he'll go to Florida next week to play for the Rays' team in Port Charlotte.
"We'll see from there," he said.
Panthers coach Ralph Franco said he was excited to see the text with Milone's decision Friday morning
"He's going to fulfill a little boy's dream," Franco said, "getting drafted and going on to play professional baseball."
Major League Baseball rules allow teams a pool of money to sign their high draft picks, assigning dollar values to each spot in the draft. Milone's was valued a little above $500,000.
So there was plenty of value either way, something Franco said he told Milone.
"Whether you're going to make the decision to go to college or sign the deal with Tampa Bay, they're both going to be the right decision," Franco said.
"There's no wrong decision there."
Milone, whose graduation was Friday night, had to make the decision by July 12 by rule.
He had a .471 batting average for Masuk this year, stealing 28 bases in 29 tries. He was the Gatorade State Player of the Year in baseball and was a speedy standout in football, drawing baseball scouts to those games as well.
"It was definitely a fun experience, and a learning experience," said Franco about going through the process with Milone. "Over the years, we've had scouts here, but never like what we had this year."
According to baseball-reference.com, there hadn't been a Connecticut schoolboy drafted higher out of public school since Barlow's Charlie Morton, whom the Braves took at 95 in 2002.
The right-handed pitcher also signed and made his Major League debut six years later. He's now with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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