However he can get to the big leagues, Tommy Lawrence wants the shot.
After being passed over in the June MLB Draft, University of Maine righty pitcher Lawrence got an offer he couldn't refuse from the Tampa Bay Rays. The team offered him a ND Free Agent deal.
"I was surprised I wasn't picked up," said Lawrence on Sunday. "I saw other guys drafted that I felt I was better than. Not to sound cocky. But now I have the same opportunity as them."
What round a player is selected can make a big difference in how he's perceived in the organization. The business of drafting and signing a player doesn't always seem fair, with guys often feeling, understandably, overlooked by higher ranked prospects. But opportunities have expanded for players to get in the door, even as signing bonuses have also ballooned, creating much tougher competition.
Lawrence joins the club of players that have a chance beyond the traditional draft and sign. And he's been offered a deal by a team that's invested time in his future for the past year.
"The Rays wanted me last year. I went to Cape Cod League and pitched well there, and then when the draft came around, I had a feeling that's where I would wind up."
The West Haven, Connecticut native, a West Haven High graduate, finished his senior season with a 3.18 ERA, striking out 97 in 104 innings of work. He appeared to have done enough to get a call on draft day. Lawrence admits he thinks he did a better job in 2013, despite winning six straight starts.
"Overall, it wasn't a bad year. I gave it my all."
When he began his collegiate career, he was faced with a new challenge. His 5-9 height was suddenly an issue. He knew what scouts look for in pitchers, and they have a preferred build.
"I looked around and the guys in college are 6-2 or 6-6. My height was a problem for teams," he said.
He had discussions with several teams, but there was clearly some hesitation. After pitching in the CCBL, and knowing the Rays were still interested.
"I knew the Rays had confidence in me."
He's yet to finalize a deal with the team, but expects to talk to Rays people in the next day or two to work out the details. He does say he's "definite" about signing with them.
Door open, he's got a scrappy, ready-to-battle attitude about his chances.
"I like to think I pitch like I am 6-6."
You can follow Tommy Lawrence @TommyGunzzz36