When I read about the Draft each June, it conjures up memories of the day I got drafted by the Yankees in 2006. That day initially was a disappointment for me in some ways, but everything has sure worked out well for me in the end.
I was drafted while pitching at the University of Alabama. At that time, leading up to the Draft, I spoke with a lot of scouts as part of the process. It is sort of weird, because you don't know what you really have to do to draw their attention. You have some meetings; there might be multiple people there for those. Still, you take the approach of going out there and doing well, going out there and doing your best. There is some added pressure on you, but really you want to compete for your college in that game and earn that win. For us, we were in the college postseason.
Being at a big baseball program at Alabama helped me get seen by a lot of scouts. Obviously, guys get seen at all types of different places, but a Division I school will generally draw pretty good talent to that program.
On the day I was drafted, I stopped listening. I stopped following it on the Internet after the fifth round. I went out and did something else. I think I went fishing. I thought I was going to get drafted by a certain point. I was getting calls from teams, but it didn't happen. When the Draft actually comes, it is different than what you actually think it is going to be.
I then got a call later on that day from the Yankees. They called me and said, "Congratulations. We took you in the 17th round." I was soon in the Cape Cod League and that is when I started to get really excited about my prospects. At the time, though, I thought I was going to get taken in an earlier round. That is just how the Draft works.
Looking back on it now, I didn't really know how the system worked. I had really high expectations. In retrospect, knowing how things work now, I could have done a better job talking with the scouts; I could have done a little better job of trying to find what they were looking for. But that is like a lot of things in life. When you are younger, you wish you knew a lot of the things you know later on. I also could have spent another year in college and gone back into the Draft, but I am fortunate to be where I am right now. I am very glad the Yankees selected me. They gave me this opportunity.
Some guys selected in a later round might take it as motivation to try and prove some of the other teams wrong for not picking them, but that is not the approach I took. When you show up and play, it doesn't matter what round you were taken in. You just have to be better than everybody else to climb up the ladder to get here. And I got to the big leagues for the first time less than two years after I got drafted. I can't say that I knew that would happen the day I got that phone call from the Yankees, but I did know that this was the same game I had played since I was a kid. I knew that if I did what I was supposed to, what I was told to do, I would climb up that ladder.
I didn't know how much time it would take exactly, but when I did make it I couldn't complain. I was fortunate.
Right-handed reliever David Roberston has pitched well for the Yankees this season, compiling a 1-0 record and a sparkling 1.16 ERA in 26 games. The 2011 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 6-9.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.