By SETH STRINGER
LSU or the San Diego Padres?
That's the decision — think of it as the opposite of a Catch-22 — facing NWF State alumnus Cam Sanders, who was selected by the Padres in the 18th round of Wednesday's MLB Draft.
"I'm on the fence," said Sanders, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-hander who committed to the Tigers after his sophomore season. "Right now I'm not really sure. I'll take a couple of weeks to decide."
NWF State skipper Doug Martin called it a "no-lose situation."
"That's the school he's always dreamed of going versus every kid's dream of playing pro baseball," Martin said. "That's a good problem to have there. He's a lucky kid and he's earned that right. Whatever decision he makes is going to be the right one."
The pickle offers another layer for the Louisiana native, who can lean on his dad for advice after being drafted 528th overall.
After all, Scott Sanders was drafted in 1990 by the very same Padres in the first round with the 32nd pick. The right-handed pitcher was later called up in 1993 by the Padres as part of a seven-year career where he went 34-45 with a 4.86 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.
"It's pretty cool," the 20-year-old said of the family ties. "My dad was pretty excited for me."
Sanders, who played high school ball at E.D. White in Thibodaux, Louisiana, had a 6-3 record in 2017 with a 2.89 ERA and 59 strikeouts with 50 walks in 43.2 innings. That was a vast improvement from his freshman campaign at NWF State, where he went 4-1 with a 5.48 ERA and 25 strikeouts and 16 walks in 21 1/3 innings.
That followed his senior season at E.D. White, where he had a 9-2 record and a 1.17 earned run average with 98 strikeouts in 73.2 innings to earn a spot on Baseball America's Top 500 list and the state's 15th best prospect according to Baseball America.
"He improved every day from the moment he arrived here," Martin said. "He took advantage of playing in our great league. You look at the junior college kids drafted and most of them are from Florida."
Sanders flew out to San Diego two weeks ago for a workout with the Padres. Once there he hit 96 miles per hour on the radar gun and talked to the general manager and some head scouts.
He also displayed an arsenal that includes a curveball, changeup and slider, the latter his out pitch. It's that repertoire that caused several clubs to reach out to him as a potential pick in the top 10 rounds, but Sanders said many clubs thought he was asking for too high of a signing bonus.
Even so, the Padres couldn't pass up the same projectability that wooed LSU.
"I didn't hit puberty until I was a junior, so I'm still young and have a lot of growing to do," Sanders said. "I feel like I'm going to fill out a lot more."
Echoed Martin, "The thing that sticks out is you can project him. He'll get more physical, stronger as he fills out and scouts know that. As opposed to some of those kids that are fully mature, he's yet to throw his hardest or showcase what he's capable of. That's what scouts like — projectable kids."
Martin also called him "an athletic kid that's a pitcher."
"Sometimes pitchers may not be the most athletic guys or have the right frame or body type," Martin said. "They may be slower or wider in the waist or hips. He's got the right frame."
And now he's got a no-lose situation.