Player Journal: Draft day memories

Selected three times, LaPorta found a home with the Brewers

(Tony Farlow/MLB.com)

June 3, 2008 7:00 AM

Matt LaPorta, the former Florida Gators star, burst onto the scene in his pro debut in 2007 after being drafted seventh overall by the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit 12 homers in only 115 at-bats (30 games) to lead the Minors in HR/AB ratio, then went on to lead the Arizona Fall League with six more roundtrippers in 30 games. He also finished second in the AFL in RBIs and total bases.

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This is Matt LaPorta reporting again from the Huntsville Stars. I hope everyone is doing well in their endeavors. This is an exciting part of the baseball season for the amateur players as well as Major League teams. It is Draft time. I personally went through the Draft process three times before I signed.

The first time I went through the process was coming out of high school. My goal was to play professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs, because that was the team my grandfather and I watched all the time on WGN. On Draft day, I was chosen by the Cubs in the 14th round and I couldn't believe that the team I grew to love and watch in the earlier part of my life had picked me in the Major League Baseball Draft. I was very excited, especially to tell my grandfather that the Cubs drafted me, because at that time he was in the hospital with a brain tumor and not doing well at all. I think it was a blessing more for him to know that I got drafted by our favorite team. Unfortunately, he passed away about four months later. I decided to go to school at the University of Florida and wait to get drafted again three years later.

My junior year of school came around and before the season started I thought I was going to be a first-rounder because of some of the hype that was going on around me. Two weeks into the season I pulled my oblique, which I thought was something minor and would require about two weeks of recovery, but I ended up missing six weeks that year.

When I returned to playing again, I thought that I would be able to produce the same way as if I played the whole year. Well, that was not the case and I ended up trying to do too much and I had a terrible year. Once again I was drafted in the 14th round, but this time by the Boston Red Sox. Most people thought I would be disappointed, but I knew that God had a bigger plan in my life and I just needed to have faith and hope in the knowledge that everything would be alright. I went back to the Cape Cod League for the second time in my college career to see if I could get a better offer from the Red Sox, but eventually nothing could be settled between the two of us.

I decided to go back to college for my senior year, which seemed like a forbidden thing to do because everyone said I would not make any money coming out of the Draft. But at that point in my life I was not concerned about money. I knew that if I went back to school, there was a chance that I wouldn't make as much, but I also knew that there was a senior year waiting for me at the University of Florida that would be irreplaceable. I went back and accomplished a lot of things that money can't buy. I am six weeks away from a college degree and I know now that if baseball doesn't work out for me, I have a backup plan. I thank God for the courage He gave me to be able to go back to school and not be concerned about money.

I had a pretty good senior year at school and ended up getting drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round with the 7th overall pick.

That was a dream come true -- something I had waited a long to time to achieve and something that wouldn't have been possible had I not returned to school. I played first base in college and the Brewers took me as an outfielder because they already have a great first baseman in Prince Fielder. I love the change to outfield -- it is different from first base, but it keeps things new. I am so grateful that the Brewers believed in me last year as their first pick and are giving me an opportunity of a lifetime.

Lastly I want to wish everyone who is going to get drafted this year the best of luck and may your dreams come true. If it doesn't happen this time around, don't worry and don't be discouraged because it doesn't mean that you are not good enough, it may just not be your time. Keep working hard and believe in yourself because you can do it.

Verse of the day

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

I thought this was fitting for everyone who is getting drafted because in God's time, He will answer.

You all have worked hard for this moment in your life, enjoy the Draft and the things that go along with it. Realize the journey doesn't stop there, though. It is just a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of making it and playing baseball in the Major Leagues.

Matt LaPorta is a prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization and a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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