By Jeffery Armstrong
Former Henry County High School pitcher Michael Rozier was selected by the Boston Red Sox during the first day of the Major League Baseball 2004 First-Year Player draft Monday night.
Rozier was drafted in the 12th round by Boston, the 365th pick overall. The thought by some people was that the 6-foot-5 left-hander, who graduated high school this year, would be drafted in the first couple of rounds. With this selection, it's highly unlikely Rozier will get a huge signing bonus that would deter him from attending the University of North Carolina to play football and baseball.
Rozier's father Mike, head football coach at Henry County, said his son was drafted in the 12th round for a reason.
"Michael didn't drop to the 12th round because of his talent, let me assure you," Rozier said. "It was all due to signability and economics. It's also due to the fact that our adviser, [sports agent] Scott Boras, can be a very tough negotiator."
The entire Rozier family did their homework on the major league baseball draft and they found some interesting statistics.
"It's a fact that 14 percent of high school draftees make it in major league baseball, while 55 percent of college players have made it in the pros," the elder Rozier said.
Michael wasn't available for comment on his draft selection as he was preparing to pitch in the East/West All-American game Monday night in Albuquerque, N.M. He did tell his parents just last week that attending college was a top priority for him. In fact, the elder Rozier said he is ?99.9 percent' sure that Michael will attend North Carolina.
"Michael told us that if he was drafted very early and received a ?life-changing' signing bonus, then he would take it. If not, he would go to college," Mike said, as he was set to see his son pitch in New Mexico. "It takes a very mature young man to make that type of decision at 18 years old. We are very proud of him and we have supported him all the way."
Rozier's mother Candace is excited for Michael and also happy he's in this position.
"Sure, Michael was a bit disappointed that he wasn't drafted higher, but I told him that this is a business," Candace said. "Besides, there have been great major league players that have been drafted in the later rounds. We told him that no matter where you're drafted, you have been successful."
Candace also said Michael has the opportunity to attend one of the best universities in the country and that's a tremendous accomplishment.
"You've got to have the grades to get into UNC and he kept his up while playing three sports [football, basketball and baseball] in high school," said Candace. "That's a great feat for any athlete."
Henry County head baseball coach Chuck Campbell was proud of his former pitcher and said he wasn't surprised that the Red Sox drafted him. Campbell said Boston and the Chicago Cubs were the two clubs that came out the most times to see Michael pitch this year.
"I thought that Boston might draft him earlier, but I'm sure other factors contributed to their decision to draft Michael later," Campbell said. "This is great. You like to see this happen to people who are deserving. He's worked very hard."
Campbell knows that a 12th-round pick won't likely get a great signing bonus. Rozier's former coach said Michael has a good opportunity for success at UNC should the Red Sox not offer him serious signing money.
"Playing two or three years of ACC baseball is good experience for a player of Michael's caliber. It's akin to playing Class A baseball," Campbell said. "He can have a little fun in school and be under some adult supervision at the same time."
At press time, Rozier's Henry County teammate Jason Laird went undrafted after the first 18 rounds.