Taylor Braley had a difficult time making a decision on whether to sign with the Miami Marlins or return for his senior season at Southern Miss.
“It was pretty tough,” Braley told the Sun Herald Wednesday. “I was going back and forth, not knowing which one I wanted to do. Once I came up with the game plan, it was pretty easy.”
Braley announced Wednesday that he has decided to forego his final year of eligibility at USM and sign with the Marlins, who made him the 179th overall selection in the sixth round of the MLB Draft on June 13.
Braley said that there was some confusion early on, but that the two sides were able to settle on a deal fairly quickly.
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“I came up with a number and told them what they wanted,” Braley said. “They came up with that number. It worked out.”
Braley said that the deal is in the neighborhood of the slot value for the 179th overall selection — $253,800.
USM fans will now have to wait and see if ace left-hander Kirk McCarty, a junior, decides to sign with the Cleveland Indians after he was made the 222nd overall selection in the 7th round last week. Junior right-hander Hayden Roberts also has a decision to make after he was picked in the 34th round by the Colorado Rockies.
USM senior first baseman Dylan Burdeaux signed with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday after he was taken in the 20th round.
Braley said he will leave in the next 48 hours to travel to the spring training home of the Marlins in Jupiter, Florida.
The Marlins drafted Braley as a pitcher, but he said that the team was open to giving him a chance at the plate.
“I think they're going to let me hit a little bit, see how it goes,” Braley said.
The former Oak Grove standout became one of the top two-way players in college baseball as a junior. He hit .313 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs as a third baseman/DH. As a pitcher, he was 7-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 14 appearances, including 13 starts.
After playing baseball in Hattiesburg for much of his life, Braley faces the challenge of competing on the professional level.
“It's going to be a lot different,” he said. “I've never been that far away from home I guess. It's going to be fun, a little different.
“It's definitely a dream fulfilled. It's been a lifelong dream to play professional ball. Here it is. It's finally happened.”