Jason Esposito, the one that got away

The Kansas City Royals failed to sign just one of their top-10 picks from the 2008 draft class.  3B-Jason Esposito was the team’s 7th round selection out of Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut Virginia.  Despite committing a then record $11.1 million in bonus money to their 2008 draft class, the Royals offered Esposito a bonus in excess of $1 million.  It wasn’t enough to pry him away from attending Vanderbilt University.

Last year as a freshman, Esposito started at 3B in all 64 of the Commodores games and hit 0.287/.351/.401 with 13 2B, 4 HR, and 20 SB in 237 at bats.  He was also named to the Louisville All-Regional team though his team fell just shy of advancing to the Super Regional.  In short, he had a heck of a season as a college freshman.  The Commodores are only 8 games into their 2010 season, but it looks like Esposito has taken a step forward in his sophomore year.  He’s currently hitting 0.387/.462/.677 with 3 2B, 2 HR, and 4 SB in 31 AB.

I’ll never fault a kid for opting to go to college instead of jumping into professional baseball right out of high school.  A signing bonus in excess of a million dollars would be hard to walk away from, but so would a baseball scholarship from a top 20 academic university like Vanderbilt.  Apparently he’s a bright young man who values a quality education.  In his player bio when asked if he could change one thing about his sport, he responded that it would be to change from aluminum to wood bats.  Based on that response alone he’s got a good head on his shoulders in my book.

I came across an interview he did back in July of 2008 on Scout.com:

GFP: How tempting was it to take the 1.5 million dollar signing bonus from the Royals and go pro?
JE: It was tempting, but I had to put the dollar amount aside and figure out whether I wanted to go off as a 17 year old and start working (literally) or come to school, get an education, and try and be apart of a first Vanderbilt team to go to Omaha. But my family was really supportive of the fact that I need an education and my 15-year-old brother actually convinced me to come to school. Which was a real shock hearing that from him. He’s been there for everything I’ve done.

Little brothers … oh wait, I’m a little brother …  Never mind then.

The 2008 draft class is a pretty salty one even when you factor in that Hosmer didn’t have the 2009 season we had all hoped.  What if he had signed and joined a class that included Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Johnny Giavotella, Tyler Sample, Tim Melville, John Lamb, Blaine Hardy, Greg Billo, and Carlo Testa to name a few?  Even without Jason Esposito in the fold, that is one heck of a draft class with four or five first-round talents in it.  I can’t help but wonder if the organization would be taking a closer look at moving Mike Moustakas behind the plate if Esposito was in the pipeline at 3B.

Every event sets off other events so when I came across Esposito’s name the other day, I couldn’t help but look him up to see how he was faring in college.  As you can tell from the above, it would appear that he’s doing just fine.  The Royals offered him first round money to get him signed in 2008 without success, but all is not lost.  He will be draft eligible again in 2011 and Kansas City just might need a near major league ready 3B with college experience on his resume.

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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