Local baseball talent chooses pros over college

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

MESA, Ariz. -- At just 17 years old, Desert Ridge High School's Riley Unroe was one of the youngest players taken in this year's MLB draft.

The teenager was taken with the 60th selection by the Tampa Bay Rays. The announcement was met with huge celebration from his family.

However, after the draft party came to close at his Mesa home, Unroe was left with a difficult decision: Should he enter the Ray's farm system at 17 years old, or should the USC commit spend the next three years enjoying a free education while playing USC?

Billy Beane discussed his similar decision in the book and movie "Moneyball." He passed on Stanford and started a playing career with the Mets, which didn't last as long as expected. Beane called it the, "only decision he would ever make in his life about money."

Unroe's numbers in high school are impressive. He's batting .553 with 10 homeruns and 59 RBI's. He can also hit from both sides of the plate.

For Unroe, the draw of a pro baseball career was just too much to pass up.

"I have always wanted to say I am a pro baseball player," Unroe said.

The road to the bigs won't be easy. Fortunately, his father, Tim Unroe, has some experience in this field. His dad was drafted by the Brewers in 1992.

Tim Unroe said the decision was made easier thanks to the deal the two struck a few years back.

"When he was 10 years old, we had a deal that if he was in the top two rounds he could play baseball for a living. Anything below that and he would have to go to college. And, he put in the work," said Tim Unroe.

"It does seem like a lot. But, you can only control what you can control," said Riley Unroe. "All I know is that I have to do my best. Play the game that I love and have fun and the rest will take care of itself."