Fans of the Vanderbilt baseball program have reason to be excited. As the early signing period comes to an end, Vanderbilt has received a National Letter of Intent from many of the nation's top players. With elite players in the signing class such as right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer (Lakeland, Fla.), the next wave of talent have cemented their desire to play for the 2011 College World Series participant.
As sterling as the Commodores class is, the period will come and go without a letter of intent from Chris Harvey, a power-hitting catcher out Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) who committed to Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin more than a year ago.
That is because Harvey is already a member of the Vanderbilt program.
In August, Harvey decided to enroll early, skipping his entire senior year of high school. The decision Harvey made to leave high school early is one that is gaining momentum, possibly on the cusp of taking off.
Bryce Harper made national headlines when he decided to forgo his final two years at Las Vegas High School, electing to attend and play for the College of Southern Nevada prior to being the first pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. But comparing Harvey to Harper is difficult.
By receiving his GED and attending a JUCO, Harper was eligible for the the MLB Draft in 2010, a year earlier than he would have by completing high school. For Harvey, a participant in the 2011 Area Code Games, he is delaying his eligibility to the MLB Draft by two years by going to a four-year school, electing to pull his name from 2012 draft considerations until 2014 at the earliest.
Harvey is not alone in declining potential millions from the 2012 draft
Joining him as players passing on their senior year are infielder C.J. Hinojosa, from Klein Collins in Spring, Texas; and Taylor Gushue, a catcher from Calvary Christian in Boca Raton, Fla. The two will enroll a semester early. Hinojosa will enroll at Texas, and Gushue will be a Florida Gator.
High school athletes enrolling in time for spring semesters have been common practice on the gridiron. In baseball, the recent rewards may signal the trend is ready for a breakthrough on the diamond.
In the Winter of 2009, infielder Levi Michael form North Davidson High School in Lexington, N.C., enrolled early at the University of North Carolina. Likewise on the west coast, right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer from Hart High School in Valencia, Calif., put a premature end to his prep career by enrolling early at UCLA.
Instead of taking on prep competition, the two players were named Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans in 2009. The recognition and numerous awards were prelude to the duo being first-round draft picks in 2011. Michael was the 30th-overall pick to the Minnesota Twins, and Bauer was the third-overall pick to the Diamondbacks.
The success of Bauer and Michael may be an example for the nation's top high school baseball players. Leaving high school early and becoming exposed to more rigorous competition in college may entice more top high school players to follow this trend.