Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Skoglund Ready to Take Step to Pros

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Skoglund Ready to Take Step to Pros

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

MLB DRAFT: Ex-Sailor 100th best prospect according to Baseball America

Eric Skoglund was thrilled to hear his name called in the 2011 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 16th round with the 482nd overall pick.

He had just completed a stellar high school career at Sarasota High.

"I was definitely excited," he said. "I did want to play pro ball. But at the same time, I did want to get my college experience, get three years of education under my belt. It's always exciting to be drafted."

Deep down, the tall, lanky, left-handed pitcher knew he was not ready -- physically or mentally -- for professional baseball.

"Honestly, education is a big part of my family," he said. "I didn't think I was ready to play at the next level, especially professional. I wasn't matured body-wise, physically. My best choice would be to go to college and three years of education."

"We talked to him and his parents about that," Sarasota High baseball coach Clyde Metcalf said. "The tools were there. He needed to physically mature. He needed to get more size and strength."

So instead of signing with the Pirates, Skoglund accepted a scholarship offer with the University of Central Florida. He pitched three years with the Knights.

Along with education in the classroom -- interdisciplinary studies with a minor in criminology -- Skoglund learned how to pitch.

"Mentally, I'm a lot stronger, poised," he said. "I understand the game within the game. Certain situations that occur throughout the game I understand what I have to do: make pitches ... it worked out perfectly."

Now, he is ready.

Skoglund is the area's top-rated prospect, according to Baseball America, for this week's 2014 draft. Baseball America has him at No. 100 overall and No. 17 in the state. He will gather around the television with family and friends Thursday night in anticipation of his name being called in the first two rounds.

If not, there is always Friday and Saturday, when the draft continues with rounds three through 40.

"I'm very excited to see what happens," Skoglund said. "I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in, having the opportunity to be drafted high. …

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