The prospect of starting a pro career now wound up being too much for Carl Albert High School catcher Taylor Hawkins to turn down.
Hawkins, an Oklahoma signee and 12th-round draft pick of the Rays, has decided to sign with Tampa Bay. Hawkins announced his decision to his Oklahoma Outlaws teammates Thursday night.
He said Outlaws coach Doug Weese has been a big influence on his progression as a player.
“He's probably believed in me the most and helped me more than any other coach has,” Hawkins said. “He helped me the last four years to become who I am right now.”
Hawkins will fly to Tampa, Fla., on Sunday for a Monday physical before officially signing.
“I'm pretty excited right now because that's all I've ever wanted to do,” Hawkins said. “I'm kind of speechless still.”
Hawkins was The Oklahoman's All-State and Big All-City player of the year, hitting 28 home runs and leading his team to the Class 5A title.
He's also been named to numerous All-America teams, most recently by USA Today.
Hawkins said his career would likely begin with the Princeton (W.Va.) Rays of the Appalachian League.
Hawkins said he spoke to Sooners coach Sunny Golloway about his decision.
“He was kind of upset about it, but he wished me the best of luck,” Hawkins said.
HENSLEY WEIGHING OPTIONS
Hawkins was the second state high schooler to go in the draft, behind Edmond Santa Fe pitcher Ty Hensley, who was selected by the Yankees in the first round.
Hensley, who has committed to Mississippi, said Friday he was still considering his options and would decide soon whether to sign before the July 13 deadline.
The slotting system changed this season, giving teams a limit on how much they can spend in the draft for players in the top 10 rounds. The signing deadline also moved up under the new deal.
“With the new system, it's changed a bunch of things,” Hensley said. “I'm not really in favor of it, but there's nothing you can do about it. We'll see what happens.”
Hensley is one of seven first-round picks, including Oklahoma State's Andrew Heaney, who remain unsigned.