Hendricken alumnus and Warwick native Tom Verdi received some big news last weekend, when he was drafted in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft to the Seattle Mariners.
When Verdi found out, he was at a restaurant surrounded by family and friends, and their Saturday dinner became a week-long celebration.
“My heart just sunk,” Verdi said. “I was out to eat with a few of my buddies and the Seattle Mariners followed me on Twitter. Then I said, ‘I think I’m about to get drafted by the Mariners.’ Then the Seattle Mariners tweeted at me saying ‘Welcome to the Mariners’ and the general manager called me. I was so glad to be out with my friends and family when it happened. It was the best feeling you could have as a baseball player.”
Verdi just finished his senior season at the University of Connecticut. He signed his contract on Monday, and is now headed to mini camp to work out for the AZL Mariners, one of Seattle’s minor league affiliates in Arizona. Now that Verdi has been drafted, Bishop Hendricken has had a student out of high school or an alumnus drafted to Major League Baseball four years in a row.
Verdi’s father said his son simply had “a whirlwind of a weekend.”
“The most stressful part is getting my name called,” Verdi said. “I was trying to stay positive but to be honest I was definitely nervous. The scouts had told me that I would be picked anywhere between the 28th and 40th round. I knew I wouldn’t get drafted Thursday, I had an outside shot on Friday and then I got drafted on Saturday. Once it happened I was on cloud nine.”
Verdi made it clear that he was excited. While he has achieved his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, Verdi was thankful for the help and support of his family. They were with him from the beginning all the way to the pros, and he is more than grateful.
“The most exciting part is being able to give it back to my family,” Verdi said. “They’ve been to every game of mine since I was six years old, and part of the reason I did this was so I could give back to them.”
Verdi finished had a strong finish to his senior campaign after missing the first 30 games due to injury. He showed versatility with a batting average of .263, with 30 hits, 9 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 31 games. He will be playing shortstop – where he had a fielding percentage of .952 last season – and possibly second base for the AZL Mariners. Verdi is ecstatic, but he knows he has work to do in order to take his game to the next level.
“The biggest adjustment is the talent level, or the consistent talent level,” said Verdi. “If you’re consistent, you’re going to continue to move up and have a long career.”
Unlike most professional sports drafts, Verdi along with the rest of the draft picks were chosen mid-season. He said he did not fully grasp the reality that he is a Mariner until he signed with the team on Monday. Verdi is now officially a professional baseball player, on the same team as his favorite player, and reality is finally starting to sink in.
“I felt like a celebrity,” said Verdi. “It was so cool over the weekend. It’s a dream. (Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano) is actually my favorite player. There’s a long way to go before I meet those guys, but it has been surreal. Rocco Baldelli called me yesterday to congratulate me and wish me good luck. But now I’m ready. It’s time to go to work. Once I signed my contract, I was ready to go.”