Like most spring sports athletes these days, UL junior shortstop Hayden Cantrelle has a lot of potentially chaotic scenarios to ponder these days.
Unlike many of them, however, Cantrelle is part of a small group of Major League Draft prospects that’s been in the dark since the college season was halted March 12.
Consider the possibilities.
Arguably the best run of any high school baseball coach in the history of the Acadiana area has ended.
For most of the past two months, Cantrelle’s been awaiting word on if the draft will take place amid the coronavirus shutdown and how many rounds it might include.
Now established as an all-time low of five rounds, that only provides a shred of direction.
Cantrelle could be drafted and start his professional career, although not in a rookie league team, because those leagues have been eliminated.
Or he could get drafted and not play baseball again for a long time if the minor league season is canceled.
Or he could get drafted, not approve of the offer and decide whether or not to return to the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Or he could not get drafted and essentially have that decision made for him.
UL baseball coach Matt Deggs doesn’t know just yet if all five seniors on this year’s team will return to the program for the fall semester.
“I’ve been doing what I can to keep my head on,” Cantrelle laughed. “It’s hard. You don’t know where your future is. But we’re baseball players, so adapting is what we’re known for, but this situation is unlike any practical baseball scenario.
“It’s just being prepared for anything and everything. That’s basically what this whole scenario is about.”
First, there was the intense disappointment of the coronavirus ending UL’s 2020 season.
That was tough on Cantrelle, who was off to a .136 start through 17 games, along with a homer, four RBIs and four stolen bases.
“It was super frustrating,” Cantrelle said. “I wanted to win. I don’t care how I play. That’s irrelevant to me. I knew I wasn’t doing my best so that we won games.”
If he is drafted and elects to leave, Cantrelle will have played his final game at UL without knowing it at the time.
“I don’t know if that was my last game in Lafayette,” he said. “That kind of hurts me. I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the end. That kind of stings.”
Then came all the widespread changes on the MLB scene, led by reducing the draft to five rounds.
UL senior second baseman Kaitlyn Alderink’s mind is already looking forward, even though the uncertainties of the current coronavirus shutdown…
“I understand the business and I understand where baseball is headed, so I think it’s just a different perspective,” said Cantrelle, who hit .309 with 15 doubles, nine homers, 31 RBIs and 28 stolen bases as a sophomore. “I know a lot of people aren’t happy about it. The scenario is a lot different than we all thought it would be. We’re all just reacting based on the information that we have.
“There’s a lot of guys that are going to get gypped out of the draft, because they didn’t have their season play out.”
In this unusual pre-draft scenario with no college baseball season, Cantrelle said he’s also got to remain physically ready for any unforeseen workouts a team might request to help make their decision.
“It’s weird, but I’m preparing for anything,” he said.
There’s a potential summer season if he enters the professional ranks. In the meantime, he's having Zoom teleconference interviews with big league clubs.
“I’ve been in and out of zooms almost every day,” Cantrelle said. “I probably have close to two or three meetings a day. That’s basically all these guys can do right now.
“Everything athletically, they basically already know. At this point, it’s about getting psych profiles on players — making sure they have the right makeup that they want in their organization.”
If the draft doesn’t go Cantrelle’s way, returning to UL is “very much a realistic option.”
The former Teurlings Catholic standout greatly appreciates that he’ll be a junior again if he does return to UL.
”For a lot of programs, it’s courageous to pay for more scholarships. You have to thank (athletic) departments for allowing that to happen,” he said. “There’s so many guys that aren’t going to play at the next level, so why should their senior season have to end like that? So a big tip of the cap to universities who are footing the bill for that.”
Being a junior helps all drafted college players when negotiating with Major League organizations.
“It’s everything when it comes down to negotiations,” he said. “That’s just the way the beast is.”