Travis Jankowski and Willie Carmona, two Stony Brook University players selected in Major League Baseball's player draft, were not far away from the dividing line between fan and big-league player at Citi Field last night.
The pair and their teammates watched batting practice near the dugout and mingled with the Mets, who honored the team after its first appearance in the College World Series. Seven Seawolves were drafted.
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"On TV they look like gods," said Carmona, a third baseman from Hempstead who was taken by the Phillies in the 11th round. "When you see them up close, you have hopes and dreams. Every person on that field has worked hard to get where they are. I'm going to have to do the same if I ever want to share the same field."
Jankowski, an outfielder who was drafted by the Padres as the 44th pick overall, said, "I know it's not going to be easy, but I'm up for the journey. This isn't a quick process."
Mets outfielder Lucas Duda, a seventh-round pick from USC, remembered Stony Brook from his freshman season when he hit his first collegiate home run off Seawolves righthander Tom Koehler, now a Triple-A prospect with the Miami Marlins. "I wish them the best of luck," Duda said. "It's a hard, long journey. Not only do you have to be highly skilled, you have to have a little bit of luck involved. For example, when Carlos Beltran is your rightfielder there's not too much time for you. In that sense, I kind of got lucky."
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, drafted by the Mets in the third round from Azusa Pacific University (Calif.), added, "Perseverance is imperative, something you have to have. Without that you're not going to make it through the minors."
Ike Davis visited with coach Matt Senk and they reminisced about the Seawolves' NCAA regional game against Davis' Arizona State team in 2008. Senk threw out the first pitch. His preparation? "In 22 years, I think I've thrown about 3 million rounds of batting practice.''
Athletic director Jim Fiore said of Senk's success: "Certainly we are going to sit with Matt and make sure this is a great situation for Matt to be the head coach here for a long time."