D.J. Uiagalelei is getting ready to begin the subsequent phase of his athletic career. He announced his intention to transfer to Oregon State during the offseason after deciding to leave Clemson after three seasons with the Tigers.
There is now a new choice on the table. If he chooses to sign with the Dodgers, he may choose to pursue a baseball career in Southern California rather than try to continue his football playing career with the Beavers in the Pacific Northwest.
He was chosen by Los Angeles with the team’s last pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, taking him 610th overall in the 20th round. That category is usually saved for last-ditch efforts on players who aren’t expected to sign, favors for close family members in the organization, or players who might sign with a hefty bonus if other draft picks opt not to.
So why did the Dodgers choose the incoming quarterback from Oregon State? What you should know is as follows.
The Baseball Career of D.J. Uiagalelei
Two-sport players are frequently available and make potentially interesting draft candidates. Duce Robinson, a five-star tight end who committed to USC, was both a college football recruit and one of the top 200 baseball prospects this year. Roch Cholowsky, a three-star quarterback prospect who committed to UCLA, was rated by SN as the No. 27 overall prospect in the 2023 MLB Draft class. No one selected either player.
Due to their impending high school graduation, both athletes would need large signing bonuses to tempt them away from their college plans. However, it’s possible that the Dodgers are attempting to entice a different kind of dual-sport athlete away from football by taking a chance on them.
It was evident that nothing could sway Uiagalelei from football as he graduated from high school. According to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, he was the top recruit in the country and the best pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class. Nobody questioned his destiny on the field of play after he committed to Clemson to play quarterback for the Tigers.
But he already enjoyed enough success in baseball on his own. He was ranked No. 282 among right-handed pitchers in the country by Perfect Game. And he told Bleacher Report he wanted to play both sports as he was getting ready to start his university athletic career.
“I really would like to play football and baseball as long as I can,” Uiagalelei told Bleacher Report. “If I get lucky enough to be able to play Major League Baseball or in the NFL, that would be a blessing.”
Before the spring of 2019, according to B/R, Uiagalelei had just been playing in the outfield and hadn’t pitched in four years. When he was a sophomore, he didn’t play baseball at all. However, he displayed a fastball in the low- to mid-90s and combined it with a slider and a curveball when he pitched in his junior year.
Don Barbara, Uiagalelei’s coach at Bosco High, predicted that it wouldn’t take him too long to go to the majors on the mound.
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Could DJ Uiagalelei Make a Comeback as a Baseball Pitcher?
Barbara said, according to B/R, “It really was unbelievable.” He wouldn’t need to wait that long to join the major leagues, in my opinion. Both his arm and his curveball should not be used.
“I get calls from scouts and agents. He is the subject of much interest. The stadium would be packed if that pitcher started pitching right now. It’s absurd.
Uiagalelei will now need to choose a choice. His football career has not progressed as many had anticipated. In his three seasons with the Tigers—two of them as the starting quarterback—he completed just 59.8% of his passes for 5,681 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. As a result of the rise of five-star quarterback Cade Klubnik, Uiagalelei decided to transfer to Oregon State in an effort to restart his football career.
The Dodgers had contacted Uiagalelei to see if he’d be interested in trying out to return to baseball before he transferred to Oregon State, according to The Athletic. Uiagalelei said he evaluated the next steps of his athletic career before doing so. However, according to Uiagalelei, he wasn’t enticed to play baseball.
The Dodgers can now see whether the 6-5, 250-pound quarterback changes his mind and decides to attempt a comeback as a pitcher now that they have at least formally taken the step of picking Uiagalelei. There is undoubtedly potential benefit to selecting him with the team’s final pick.
If he decides to sign, the Dodgers may be able to acquire a young pitcher with potential who can handle the workload of a starter and has a fastball with good velocity.
We’ll update you if this news changes. Visit our website Focushillsboro for the latest news on this issue.