Junior shortstop Tim Locastro announced Tuesday he will forgo his senior season of college baseball to play professionally. On Saturday, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Locastro in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball Entry Draft.
Locastro led the Blue and Gold in nearly every hitting category during the 2013 season. He hit for a .436 average while claiming the school single-season records in runs scored, 71, and stolen bases, 40.
Assistant Sports Editor Steve Derderian spoke with Locastro via phone on Tuesday night to discuss Locastro’s future in baseball.
Steve Derderian: What was your favorite moment from this past season?
Tim Locastro: It would have to be when we won regionals. Even though the College World Series was an amazing experience, just being able to win regionals with all my teammates and seeing everybody celebrating at one time with that trophy, especially after we beat Cortland, was just amazing.
SD: During the season, were you ever trying to prove that you were good enough to play at the next level?
TL: There were a couple of team scouts that came to see me, but I wasn’t worried about that at all. I was worried about winning, especially because, at first, we wanted to be the number one seed and be conference champions. Then when we got to the playoffs, we wanted to win regionals, and I was just trying to win games and help us win games. Everybody on our team did a great job of helping, and it made me better as well.
SD: Tell me how you found out you were selected by the Toronto Blue Jays?
TL: Me, my mom and my dad were in the basement, and we were listening to it on mlb.com. I went upstairs to charge my phone, and my dad was still listening. As I was charging my phone, the next thing you know I hear my dad scream, “Yes!” He ran upstairs and gave me a high-five and told me everything, and I was just shocked. To tell you the truth, I think my parents were probably more excited at the time than me.
SD: Who was the first person you contacted when you got the news?
TL: I was in a group chat with a bunch of my friends who were on the team at school. They found out just like me by watching it. They gave me a text message as a group, and everybody in that group said something. I’m happy that they were able to experience it like I was. The thing that shocked me was that Toronto didn’t call me until about 5-10 minutes after, and my phone was getting so many text messages and phone calls that it actually froze when they called. I had to call him back.
SD: When looking at the history of the Ithaca College baseball program and seeing the guys like Coach Valesente or your former teammate Tucker Healy get drafted into the MLB, what kind of influence or inspiration have they given you to get your game to the point where you have the opportunity to play professional baseball?
TL: I talk to them every day — not just up to the draft, but during the season. They were always able to give me guidance and help when I needed it. They were great the whole year, not just now. They were both shocked that I went that early, but they were both thrilled for me.
SD: Were you hoping you were going to be taken in the first day or first 10 rounds?
TL: To tell you the truth, I got a call from a scout where I expected to go. Just from the experience of Tucker Healy getting drafted 25th round, I thought the mid-20s was where I was going to go. That was what my expectation was, so I was absolutely shocked that I went that early.
SD: What is the image that comes to mind when you envision yourself playing pro ball?
TL: Honestly, I think it’s still surreal right now. I’ve been on a plane all alone, and I haven’t done anything like this before. It really hasn’t caught my attention yet, and I’m still sort of living the dream and can’t believe it.
SD: Did you ever play any sports or picture taking any other sport past the college level other than baseball?
TL: Other than baseball, I played football and basketball when I was younger, just Pop Warner Football. In high school I just played the local league. I was good, but I wasn’t better than everybody else. There were times in the backyard shooting baskets where I thought I’d be Michael Jordan, but in reality, I knew I wouldn’t go pro in basketball or football.
SD: Since you’re from Auburn, N.Y., I’m guessing you were never a Toronto Blue Jays fan, but did you want a particular team to draft you last weekend?
TL: I grew up a Yankees fan, but that didn’t have an effect on me. Any team that took me would have made me equally as thrilled. The Blue Jays minor league team used to be in Auburn, so I thought that would’ve been cool if they had stayed there. I’m used to growing up watching some of the minor leaguers go up through the Blue Jays’ system.
SD: Did you have a favorite player or role model when you grew up?
TL: I was a big Jeter fan, especially since he came up so young and he was on my favorite team. Growing up I used to idolize him.
SD: Twitter mentioned today that you are deciding to forgo your senior year and accept the offer to play professional baseball. Is this true?
TL: Yes. I’m currently in Charlotte awaiting my flight to Florida. I haven’t signed a contract officially, but I have to sign it when I get down there. I actually sign it Wednesday, but tonight will be a handshake agreement.
SD: What factors contributed to that decision?
TL: I had a lot of influences that helped me with this decision. I think making it to the College World Series as a team, even though we didn’t win it, was big with my decision. I thought it was a better choice to go pro now rather than going back to school, even though I would have loved to go back.
SD: Are there any parts of your game you think you’ll have to improve the most when making the jump from the college level to the professional level?
TL: As of right now, I don’t know what position I’m going to play. If I had to change positions, that’s definitely going to be a big adjustment. I also think the pitching is going to be a little bit better than what I saw all year, and that’s probably going to be the biggest thing.
SD: So what is the plan or process now that you’re heading for Florida?
TL: I know that you can either stay in Florida or play in Virginia or Vancouver, which is for the short season. You just have to see where you get placed, and that is the organization’s choice.
SD: Regardless of what happens next with your baseball career, do you plan on returning to Ithaca to finish that one year you have to get your degree in business administration?
TL: Absolutely! That was part of the agreement where [Toronto] helps pay for some of my schooling, and I’ll definitely be back. With the short season ending in early September or late August, I’ll definitely be back this upcoming fall.