By Doug Gorman
The waiting game is over for former Henry County High School baseball player Michael Rozier and baseball wins out over football.
After weighing his options between a chance to play college football at the University of North Carolina, or starting his professional baseball career with the Boston Red Sox organization, Rozier made his decision official Tuesday afternoon by signing his first professional baseball contract.
In a telephone conversation from Boston on Tuesday, Rozier said he was relieved to have the decision behind him.
"The waiting was kind of hard," he said. "I knew all along if it was financially a good deal that I was going to go with baseball."
Rozier's signing bonus is reported to be $ 1.5-million to be paid out over a five-years, The Red Sox drafted Rozier in the 12th-round of the amateur draft in June.
Former Henry County coach Chuck Campbell, who stepped down as baseball coach in May, is glad to see Rozier get his pro career started.
"I don't think Michael was really thinking about the money," said Campbell. "I just think he was anxious to get his pro career started. As much as he wanted to go to college, I think in his heart he has always wanted to start his baseball career.
The former Henry County pitcher spent his summer in an intense throwing program while negotiations continued with the Red Sox. Now, he said he is ready to get started.
The next step in Rozier's professional baseball career is attending an instructional league in Florida during the month of September.
From there, Rozier will prepare to go to his first spring training in February. The Red Sox will then place him in one of their minor league organizations.
The left-handed, hard-throwing pitcher is hoping for a quick climb to the majors.
"I would love to be pitching in the big leagues in two to three years," he said.
On the football field, Michael was the starting quarterback for the Warhawks, playing for his father, Mike.
Although the football team struggled to win games, the younger Rozier impressed college football coaches with his arm strength and ability to throw the football.
Back in February, Michael signed a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina because they were also going to allow him to play college baseball.
Rozier made a name for himself early in his high school career, as scouts flocked to his games, often clocking his fastball at over 90-miles per hour.
The former Henry County pitcher stepped into the spotlight as a freshman when he was given the opportunity to start at the last minute in a game against Stockbridge and Kyle Davies, who now pitches in the Braves' organization at Greenville.
Henry County lost the game, but Rozier held his own.
"I had watched Michael even before he got to high school, but I never thought of him as a power pitch," Campbell said. "Troy Baker (now head coach at Henry County) was the pitching coach then and we quickly changed our approach with Michael. He has always had such a great command of his pitchers."
Rozier joins Davies (Greenville Braves), Matt Murton (Daytona Beach Cubs), Jason Perry (Modesto Athletics) and Trae Wiggins (Orlando Braves) among local minor leaguers.