For Blake Forsythe, playing in the Major Leagues has been a dream since he was a kid playing Little League.
On June 8, that dream got one step closer when the Tennessee catcher was selected in the third round by the New York Mets in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Forsythe, a junior this past season, expects to sign with the Mets and forgo his senior season with the Volunteers.
“We’ve been talking the past couple of weeks or so, just working things out (financially),” Forsythe said. “Right now (my agent and I are) in negotiations (with the Mets), and here shortly, we’ll get the ball rolling and I’ll get out there and start playing and start my development (as a professional baseball player).”
Forsythe hit .286 this past season with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs, a decline in production at the plate from the 2009 season when he batted .347 with 22 home runs and 87 RBIs.
Still, head coach Todd Raleigh believes his backstop had a successful season despite the drop in numbers.
“Blake is a great player,” Raleigh said. “He (didn’t) have a bad year if you look at his home runs and RBIs. It's just the expectations on him (were) so high (going into the season)."
The jump from college to professional baseball includes switching from metal to wooden bats. The switch is one Forsythe has done in the past, but he feels he still will need to get comfortable using wooden bats full time.
“It’s going to be a development process,” Forsythe said. “I’ve transitioned from metal to wooden bats (before). It’s always a little hard, but since I’ve done it the past couple of summers, and I played a few tournaments in high school with wooden bats, I’ve been accustomed to it a little bit.
“I played last summer with Team USA with wooden bats and the summer before that in the Coastal League. I’ve gotten the taste of it a little bit, but it just takes a little. The more games I play, the more I’ll get used to it, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Playing 21 games with the USA Collegiate National Team last summer is where Forsythe really caught the attention of baseball scouts and elevated his draft stock.
He finished second on the squad in on-base percentage with a .500 average and posted the highest fielding percentage while playing the hardest defensive position in baseball, Raleigh said.
Barring an unexpected snag in negotiations, Forsythe will finish his Tennessee career a .300 hitter with 30 home runs and 107 RBIs. His 30 long balls rank him eighth in Tennessee history.
Being the 89th overall selection in the draft and a three-year college player, the Mets are expecting Forsythe to quickly rise through the minor leagues once he signs and contribute on the major league level in the coming years.