By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Former Ole Miss pitcher Bobby Wahl said leaving the school was one of the toughest decisions he’s ever faced, but he knew it was time.
Timing was something that bothered him, though, as news broke almost two weeks ago that he was signing with the Oakland Athletics organization.
It was a Thursday afternoon that Jim Callis of Baseball America reported on Twitter that Wahl had signed.
Such action, though imminent, had not yet occurred.
“I hadn’t signed my name anywhere at the time, and I didn’t want people thinking I didn’t tell anybody before I did, especially coach (Mike Bianco). He was one of the first people I wanted to know. I didn’t want him to see that and think that I never told him,” he said. “It was confusing, but we worked something out, and the next day it was done.”
Wahl is in Phoenix working out for the A’s and awaiting his assignment. He’s pitched three bullpen sessions but hasn’t appeared in a game yet.
He says he’s been given some indication as to why he slid a few rounds down the draft ladder but chooses not to discuss the topic. A right-hander with a strong slider, Wahl went 10-0 this season and kept his earned run average below 2.00 throughout the regular season.
He was a projected as a first round pick but was still on the board in the fifth when the A’s nabbed him with the 161st pick.
Wahl’s signing bonus may have been Oakland’s way of acknowledging his value.
The 161st pick was slotted for $286,200. Wahl received $500,000 which is more in line with third-round money.
That draft experience created a sense of hope among many fans that Wahl would return for his senior year.
“I thought about coming back all the time. Ole Miss is my home, and I love it. That’s probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. It took a lot out of me,” Wahl said. “This has been one of my dreams, and I kind of had to start that dream. I’m at a point in my career where I’m a mature pitcher. I understand what it takes to get outs at a high level.”
The A’s were surprised to see Wahl available in the fifth round, he said.
“There were a couple of things said to me. There were a couple of things that a lot of the organizations I guess saw and didn’t like,” Wahl said. “I have to trust in God and know that he has a plan for me.”
Wahl is trying to remain loose while awaiting the next leg of his journey.
“Everything worked out for the best,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m getting paid to play baseball. It’s been my dream. There’s not too much I can complain about.”