Ask a group of middle school boys what they would like to be when they grow up, and there’s a good chance that a number of them will respond with an answer involving a career as a professional athlete.
While only a few starry-eyed youngsters actually realize that dream, for a talented and fortunate few, that wish comes to fruition.
With the upcoming Major League Baseball draft, two Penn baseball players have a chance to be added to that list.
“When you’re little, you want to be a professional athlete,” said pitcher Paul Cusick, who took home top pitching honors this past season when he was named the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year.
Cusick, who graduated two weeks ago, is one of two Quakers hoping to have his named called for the draft, which will take place from June 6-8. Rising senior Vince Voiro, also a pitcher, is the other.
In his dominating senior season, Cusick went 5-3 overall, but recorded 80 strikeouts in 66-plus innings with a 2.70 ERA. He has talked to a few scouts throughout the season, but said his draft day expectations are reserved.
“If it happens, it happens,” Cusick said. “If it doesn’t, that’s why I came to Penn, for an Ivy League degree — it’s not a bad thing to fall back on.”
If Cusick is chosen, it is likely it would be in the latter half of the draft, which goes 50 rounds. From there, the team that selects him would still need to sign him to a minor league contract.
Some players drafted in the later rounds often end up not signing a contract for various reasons — the player may choose to continue school or enter the work force, or the team may not have room for that player in their minor league system. Cusick, however, said if he’s called on, he’ll jump at the prospect of playing professionally.
“If someone’s going to give me the opportunity, I’m not going to say no,” he said.
The scouts seem to be even more interested in Voiro, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who estimated that he’s spoken to “anywhere between 12 and 15 teams.” He named the Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, and Red Sox as those he’s communicated with the most.
Voiro did not match Cusick’s award-winning numbers, concluding the season with a 4-5 record and a mediocre 4.28 ERA. However, when it comes to drafting baseball players, scouts tend to look less at statistics and more at the potential of the player and how he could develop.
Nonetheless, with just a few days until the draft, Voiro said he still has no idea when, or even if, he will be selected.
“I’m hoping to get drafted, but the scouts usually leave you in the dark,” Voiro said. “They can’t say much for sure, because they don’t know what’s going to happen until the day of the draft.”
Since he has yet to graduate, Voiro could find himself in a dilemma if he is picked as he could be forced to choose between taking a chance on a professional career and continuing his education.
He said he does not “have an exact number or an exact round” of how high he would have to go to leave school, but no matter what, “it will be a consideration.”
Regardless of what happens, Voiro claims he has just been enamored with the whole process.
“It’s a dream come true … knowing that scouts are taking the time to even call you and talk to you in the first place. Anything from here on out is just a bonus,” he revealed.
Both players have grown up in the Delaware Valley — Cusick, in Wilmington, Del., and Voiro, in Cherry Hill, N.J. — and are lifelong Phillies fans. Of course, neither pitcher would mind having their hometown team call upon them next week, but both stated that having any team take a chance on them would be incredible.
“I’m a big-time Phillies fan, so that would be really awesome,” Voiro said. “It would definitely be even better if that were to happen, but I’m not going to be picky about the process.”
And as the draft approaches, both Penn players are hoping that their baseball careers do not end as Quakers, but rather as professional athletes who realized a dream.
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