Monday was the first day of classes at the University of Georgia. It was also the deadline for major league baseball draft picks to sign with the teams that chose them.
Zach Dotson won’t be carrying his books around the campus after all. Instead, he’ll be carrying his glove and spikes for the New York Mets’ rookie league team.
The Effingham County High School grad has come to terms with the Mets, signing with them over the weekend.
“It’s a huge weight lifted from my shoulders,” Dotson said. “This weekend was hectic. I figured it would go to the deadline.”
Dotson and his brother helped their father move into a new house Wednesday. The Mets called that day, and Dotson was in New York City the next day.
Dotson was rated as high as No. 86 in Baseball America’s rankings of high school prospects across the nation. The Mets called him in the third round to tell Dotson they wanted to draft him. But the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement, and the Mets eventually selected Dotson in the 13th round as the 404th overall pick.
In his final high school season, Dotson posted a 7-3 record with a 1.92 earned run average. He struck out 98 in 51 innings, issuing only 17 walks, in earning an all-Region 2-AAAA selection.
Against Statesboro, Dotson struck out 11 and fanned 14 in a win against Ware. He had 13 strikeouts in his last high school game, a loss to rival South Effingham, and also turned in a 129-pitch, nine-strikeout effort in a win against South Effingham earlier in the season.
For his career at ECHS, Dotson was 19-9 with a 2.17 ERA and 218 strikeouts.
The Bulldogs had scheduled a team meeting for Friday afternoon, before the start of the fall semester, but Dotson was in New York. The Mets met Dotson’s terms for signing, he said.
Signing with the Mets ended a summer of dilemma for Dotson. He spoke with the Georgia staff every day, and the Mets called every week.
“One day I’d wake up and want to go to Georgia. I’d wake up the next day and want to sign with the Mets,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to know what I’m going to do.”
By his own count, Dotson only played in a few tournaments this summer and took a two-week break recently. He spent two days in New York City this past weekend with the Mets organization.
“I could get used to it,” he said of the Big Apple, “if I was playing for the Mets.”