Marcus baseball star Poché chooses college over the pros

[/media-credit] Marcus standout Colin Poche decided not to go pro with the Baltimore Orioles but rather a scholarship with the University of Arkansas.

Take some decent money now or go to school with the hopes of making even more later. That was the dilemma facing Colin Poché.

The former Marcus High School baseball star and recent graduate had to decide whether to immediately begin a professional career or take up a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas.  He knew if he chose the latter, he couldn’t go pro until after his third year in college.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound left-handed pitcher was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of this year’s baseball draft in early June. But after a few weeks of negotiating a deal with the team, he decided to forgo the immediate money and play collegiately in 2012-13.

“I decided to go to college because I believe three years at an excellent baseball program like the one at Arkansas would prepare me better both physically and mentally for the daily grind of minor league baseball,” he said. “Arkansas continually has one one of the best pitching staffs in the nation and I am excited to be a part of that and compete in the toughest conference in college baseball in the SEC. I have built a trust with the coaches at Arkansas and I am excited to play for them next year.”

Playing in the pros was not at the top of Poché’s mind after missing most of his junior season at Marcus with an elbow injury. Everything changed, however, when he worked with Dallas-area coach Sam Carpenter and the D-Bat Mustangs baseball club.

“I worked last summer to get my arm strength back and it carried over to this spring,” he said. “Sam is a Dallas baseball legend. Being on his team gets you noticed and I started pitching well.”

Poché helped the D-Bat Mustangs to the 2011 Connie Mack World Series championship game in Farmington, N.M., last summer. That fall, he struck out six batters in three innings in the WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Fla., conducted by the Perfect Game Scouting Service.

It was while playing at Perfect Game that Poché first began attracting attention from major league scouts and college coaches. He committed to Arkansas during last November’s early signing period after also receiving scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Navy, Dallas Baptist and Texas State and receiving calls from TCU, Oklahoma, Mississippi State and LSU.

“He’s a lefty and they are always in demand,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn told ArkansasSports360.com.

“Colin is an athletic left-hander that can throw strikes,” Van Horn told arkansasrazorbacks.com. “He’s also an outstanding student. We feel he has a chance to come in and contribute right away, especially as a left-handed pitcher.”

Poché figured he was headed to Arkansas at the beginning of his senior year at Marcus. Then he turned in a stellar campaign with a 7-3 record while yielding just two earned runs, none in the regular season.

The key point came April 5 game against Flower Mound when Poché and mound opponent Cody Gunter each struck out 16 batters in a game the Jaguars won 1-0 in eight innings.

“There were about 30 scouts there that day which kind of put me on the map,” Poché said. “After that, I got a lot of attention and realized I could have an opportunity to be drafted.”

As school wound down and the June draft approached, Poché heard from enough people to know he’d be drafted at least as high as the No. 162 spot where he was picked. He just didn’t know for sure who would choose him.

“I really didn’t know if it would be the Orioles,” he said. “I thought maybe it would be the (Los Angeles) Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays or San Diego Padres. You never know where they will have you on their board.”

Poché said about 10 picks before he was selected, the Orioles called to see if he was still interested in foregoing his collegiate career and signing a pro contract.

“I said yes, then sat there checking the Internet,” he said. “Then my name popped up and two minutes later Ken Guthrie, their area scout, called me.”

Had Poché signed with the Orioles, he would have immediately reported to their Sarasota, Fla., training facility and joined one of their rookie teams where his biggest supporters figured he’d start the path to the major leagues.

“You’ll most likely see him pitching on TV one day,” former Marcus Coach Dustin Sykora told ESPNDallas.com.

That could still happen if Poché comes anywhere close to the pitchers he’s been compared to such as current Texas Ranger Derek Holland, former Ranger Cliff Lee, current Oriole Zach Britton and New York Yankee Andy Pettitte. It’s just that now, the road to get there starts in Fayetteville, Ark.

“I have a young body,” he said. “I haven’t matured. I haven’t grown into the body I can be when I mature. I’m coachable. I pick up things every day.

“I need to learn how to pitch at the next level. You can’t just throw a fastball. I need to physically get stronger so I can improve my velocity. I also want to develop a change-up. At that level, if you have a good fast ball and and a change up you can move up the system faster.”

Image courtesy of Staff | Allen Publishing
Mark Miller About Mark Miller

Mark Miller, a Flower Mound resident since 2008, is an award-winning writer, editor and public relations specialist. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin journalism school, he has worked as a daily newspaper sports writer, national magazine writer and editor and spent nearly 25 years in corporate/public relations and publications for the United States Bowling Congress based in Arlington. He has been quoted in most major media including USA Today, CBS-TV, Los Angeles Times and New York Times. Currently working as a freelancer, he is the national and Dallas-Fort Worth bowling writer for the Examiner.com website.

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