MWL notes: A's Covey overcoming diabetes

Beloit righty has no regrets after walking away from first-round bonus

Dylan Covey is 4-6 with a 5.02 ERA in 15 games for Class A Beloit this season. (Emily Jones/

By Curt Rallo / Special to | July 10, 2014 10:00 AM ET

It was one of the best days of Dylan Covey's life. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound pitcher heard that he was selected in the first round of the 2010 Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, the No. 14 pick overall.

It was also the beginning of one of Covey's toughest ordeals.

Covey walked away from a first-round signing bonus when he found out he had Type 1 diabetes just one day before the signing deadline. He ended up being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft, and now, as the A's No. 11 prospect, pitches for the Beloit Snappers.

When he was selected in the first round back in 2010, Covey thought the negotiation process would be smooth. The Brewers offered him above-slot money, estimated to be in the $2 million range, and told him to enjoy his summer until the Commissioner's Office gave its OK.

Two days before the signing deadline, Covey underwent a physical.

One day before the signing deadline, Covey was informed that he had Type 1 diabetes.

"It was awesome getting drafted in the first round," Covey said. "While I was waiting to sign, I hung out with friends. I didn't have any worries that it wouldn't work out. In my mind, there was no doubt I was going to sign, and everything was going to go smoothly."

A doctor meeting with Covey and Brewers representatives informed the former Maranatha (Pasadena, California) High School star that he was suffering from diabetes, and the signing process screeched to a halt.

"The doctor said that there would be an adjustment period of about 18 months, where I was going to have to get used to diabetes, and that my body was going to change," Covey said.

Milwaukee took back its above-slot offer and countered with an estimated $1.7 million. Covey decided to walk away from the money and enroll at the University of San Diego.

"I was totally uncomfortable with the entire idea, starting a new life, not really knowing what I was getting myself into," Covey said. "I just decided that college was the better route for me."

"Turning down that kind of money and that kind of opportunity was definitely a little disappointing, but I knew that this what was supposed to happen, and that I'd have a second chance."

Covey, who regularly lights up the radar gun at 93 mph, lost 40 pounds between his senior year of high school and his freshman year at San Diego.

"It was really difficult at first," Covey said. "I was giving myself manual injections of insulin. It was tough to get a grasp on everything. Looking back, the lifestyle I'm living now, traveling to different parts of the Midwest, eating at late-night places that don't always offer the best options, I would have had a tough time adjusting to that as an 18-year-old kid with a new disease.

"Now that I know what I'm doing, and I've had three years of my family's support, and the school's training staff support, I have a much better understanding of what I have to do."

Covey, weakened by the initial onslaught of the disease, struggled through his freshman season at San Diego.

"I remember going to one of the first workouts, and I was really sick," Covey said. "I was taking the insulin and getting better, but I wasn't 100 percent, and the workouts were exhausting. There were things I physically couldn't do. My sophomore year, after being on the insulin for a year and having a better understanding of what I was dealing with, that year's first workout was a completely different story. My weight was where it needed to be, and I could do everything I needed to be."

Covey fought through the adversity and heard his name called again in the Draft, this time in 2013. He is not haunted by the decision to walk away from the Brewers' first-round signing offer in 2010, estimated at $1.7 million, for a fourth-round signing bonus of $370,000 in 2013. This season with Class A Beloit, the Glendale, California, native is 4-6 with a 5.02 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 84 1/3 innings over 15 games. He's logged a pair of complete games and allowed just three homers to Midwest League batters.

"Obviously, from a financial aspect, it would be nice, but I don't think I hindered my career in any way, shape or form," Covey said. "I don't regret what I did. I definitely think my decision and the adversity I faced helped me grow up and develop toughness.

"There were times my freshman year where I was seriously doubting my decision. I just had to work through it and try to get better. It definitely was the right decision, even though there were times I was tested."

In brief

Dented TinCaps: Fort Wayne managed to do what few teams have been able to do -- get to Great Lakes' All-Star reliever Mark Pope -- but it wasn't enough for the TinCaps to avoid a franchise record-tying 10th consecutive loss July 8. Fort Wayne rallied to erase a 4-1 lead with three runs in the top of the ninth inning against Pope, who had only allowed two runs all season entering Tuesday night's game. Fort Wayne's momentum disappeared quickly as Webster Rivas hit a lead-off walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to give Great Lakes a 5-4 victory.

Record chaser: South Bend shortstop Andrew Velazquez has reached base in 68 consecutive games. The Minor League Baseball record for an on-base streak is 71 games, set by Kevin Millar in 1997 and tied by fellow former Red Sox Kevin Youkilis in 2003. Boston prospect Mookie Betts had an on-base streak end at 66 games earlier this season.

Back-to-back: Clinton's LumberKings posted consecutive victories for the first time in more than a month. The LumberKings knocked off Kane County, 2-1, on July 6 in a 14-inning walk-off victory, and after taking Monday off, the LumberKings knocked off Peoria, 4-2 on July 8. It was Clinton's first set of back-to-back victories since June 1-2, when the LumberKings trounced Beloit 18-4 and 10-1.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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