SPORTS Q&A: Dylan Stoops, on realizing baseball dream
- Dylan Stoops was 9-3 with a 3.18 ERA with the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League.
- Those numbers attracted the interest of the San Diego Padres, who purchased his contract from the Bums.
- Stoops is expected to make his first start with Single-A Lake Elsinore on Wednesday.
A lot of people have self-doubt.
Dylan Stoops is no different.
After battling through a pair of injuries while playing NCAA Division I baseball at the University of Richmond, Stoops was not selected in last year’s Major League Baseball Draft. He truly believed he was good enough to play in affiliated minor league ball, but things didn’t work out.
So he bounced around a bit, playing for the East Prospect Pistons early last summer in the Susquehanna League before playing for a couple of independent minor league teams.
His dream of playing for a major league organization seemed to be fading.
All of a sudden, however, the dream that was seemingly lost came back in full force. It started with a conversation with his manager for the Traverse City (Michigan) Beach Bums in the Frontier League. Stoops was enjoying an excellent season this summer with the Bums (9-3, 3.18 ERA) and his manager said there might be potential interest from a big league club.
Sure enough, a day later, Stoops got the news he’s been hoping for all year — his contract was being purchased by the San Diego Padres organization.
Since then it’s been a whirlwind of joy and stress for the 6-foot, 4-inch, 24-year-old southpaw. He’s had to fly halfway around the country, from Traverse City to San Diego’s spring training complex in Arizona to California, where he'll play for the Class Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm, with a few flight delays in between.
He’s been inundated with calls of support from his family and friends. And, oh yeah, he has to quickly get ready to play for his new team. He is slated to start Wednesday evening.
We caught up with Stoops to find out how the former Eastern York standout is doing a few days after getting the good news for this edition of Sports Q&A.
Q: What have the last four or five days been like for you personally?
A: “Absolutely hectic. Just everything that you can think of, from the joy of getting ‘the call,' to telling my family and friends, but then stressful from flight delays and not knowing where I’m going. Now I’m just excited knowing that I’ll get a start.”
Q: When did you find out you were getting picked up by the Padres organization?
A: “I guess it was Tuesday night (Aug. 16) when I got a phone call from my manager at Traverse City and he asked ‘how would you like to be a San Diego Padre?’ I didn’t respond at first and it took a little bit for it to sink in, but I told him it would be like a dream come true. So he said ‘all right, hang tight. I have about one more phone call I have to make, but it sounds like it’s about 90 percent official.' So the next morning we made it official.”
Q: What do you know about the Padres?
A: “Well, that’s one of those things. I’ve grown up being an O’s fan. I’ve never had anything against the Padres, they never really challenged the Birds. So I didn’t really love them, but I didn’t really hate them. But now I love them. They were the ones that gave me the opportunity. I know that they are usually very strong pitching-wise and it’s one of those organizations that I’m just proud to be a part of.”
Q: What was your initial reaction to the news?
A: “It was a mix of between just smiling and crying tears of joy uncontrollably while I’m laughing and carrying on with my two roommates, one of whom I went to Richmond with (Andrew Brockett). He had been in pro ball (drafted in the 22nd round by Kansas City) and he knew the feeling of being drafted. He just kept telling me, ‘relax, you deserve this.'”
Q: How did your brother, Camden, who is on the wrestling squad at Gettysburg College, react to the news?
A: “I called my brother to let him know and he was just floored. It was just a few weeks before that I kind of got to the realization that (playing pro ball) may not be in my future if nothing pans out. I don’t know how many years of independent ball that I can play. So I was kind of working on my resume and I ran that by him and told him that I kind of wanted to go out on top after a good season. And he just said, ‘no matter what happens, if you’re happy with your decision that’s all that really matters.' And then, a couple of days later I get this call and he’s just like, ‘can you believe that?’ Just a couple days away from possibly giving it up and you get a call and the dream continues.”
Q: How are you treating this whole thing, both now and for your future?
A: “They told me that I’m going to get three starts with a seven-inning cap and a 100-pitch count to do what I can with it and that will dictate my future. They know that, as an independent league guy, that it’s hard and I’m not a draft pick, but that if everything goes well, I’ll have a spring training invite and a permanent home the following year. And what I’m hoping to get out of it is, that if I mess up, I’m going to mess up flying. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got, throw the pitches that I believe in, work the same way that I got here and not try to over-do it. I just want to take full advantage of this opportunity. I told my parents on the phone that it doesn’t matter if I’m in affiliated ball for a minute or 20 years, I’ll be able to tell people that this happened. I’m officially a Padre and that’s something that not a lot of people can say.”
Q: Anything else interesting happen to you over these past couple of days?
A: “Yeah, one funny thing. I called my mom and after I told her and she started to calm down, I asked her how much money was left in my account. And that’s because independent ball is really relaxed, so there’s no dress code. And I told her that I had 16 T-shirts with me, but 13 of them were Orioles shirts. So I was obviously not going to be able to wear them anymore. And she just said, ‘it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. Just go to Wal-Mart and buy some plain T-shirts or whatever is there and we’ll figure it out from there.’ And I was just like, ‘all right, all right.'”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.