Cal Raleigh Opts For Pro Ball At Last Minute

Cal Raleigh spared seemingly just a few minutes prior to the draft signing deadline before the Mariners announced they had officially come to terms with their third-round pick.

The catcher out of Florida State had to consider whether he would take Seattle up on its $854,000 offer to join Raleigh’s family business and become a professional baseball player, or if he would try to restore his image with scouts by returning to FSU for his senior year.

“It was tough—it’s a much tougher decision than people think,” Raleigh said. “I had three great years at Florida State. It became my second home and a place I obviously fell in love with.

“I tried to look at what I really want to be doing, and it’s been my dream ever since I was little to be playing pro baseball, to be in the bigs.”

So now the Mariners have a switch-hitting catcher with power potential, which includes 13 home runs in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, when he hit .326.

He mentioned his second home is Tallahassee. His first home is Cullowhee, N.C., so Raleigh the player lives on the other side of the state from Raleigh the state capital.

But you could say his home is actually on a baseball field. He was raised in baseball. His father Todd Raleigh signed with the Red Sox and his uncle Matt Raleigh was a 14th-round pick by the Montreal Expos in 1992.

Matt Raleigh was Double-A teammates with Scott Hunter, the Mariners’ scouting director and man in charge of drafting Cal Raleigh. Cal said they are still good friends to this day.

“He’s going to play for a long time,” Hunter said. “Whether he becomes an everyday guy, I can’t guarantee, but I got a lot of scouts saying, ‘Wow, that guy is going to play a long time.’ “

The problem for Raleigh was that many scouts soured on him after he hit .227 his sophomore year, though he said he labored through the season with a bone bruise in his thumb. Raleigh was a Freshman All-American the year before, when the thick-bodied, 6-foot-3 catcher hit 10 home runs.

More fell off him because of a slow start to his junior season.

But Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto raved.

“We felt like he was one of the best catchers in the country in what was a pretty good year to be a college catcher,” Dipoto said. “First with (second overall pick) Joey Bart and then guys like Cal.

“We feel the leadership, the switch-hitting—he’s a good offensive player with defensive skill—and we felt like he was one of the better pitch framers in the country. Big school in a big conference and it’s an opportunity for us to put a polished catcher in the system.”

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