Robert Hassell III is the 2020 Gatorade High School Baseball Player of the Year in the state of Tennessee. He is also one of the most prized recruits in the nation and is committed to Tim Corbin and the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Hassell has a big decision coming soon in whether to sign with the Commodores or head to professional baseball where he could find himself an instant millionaire before he turns 20 years old.
That doesn't seem like a tough call for some of us, but according to an article published on Wednesday by Joe Rexrode in The Athletic, Hassell is strongly considering Vanderbilt.....at least for now.
A left-handed pitcher and a power bat, Hassell could attend Vanderbilt as either an outfielder, playing every day, or a pitcher who possesses a 90 mph fastball and work there behind Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, and Sam Hlboki. They at least at this time appear to be the top pitchers returning.
"Oh my gosh. It's something new every year it seems like," Hassell, who is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, said about Vanderbilt in Rexrode's article. "Once the top guys get drafted from there and go on, they just bring in somebody else. It's insane, the players they produce. But yeah, being able to go up there, that would be amazing. Amazing. Just to watch (Rocker and Leiter) play. Play behind them and get some runs on the board for them, too. That would be nice."
Just how much money would Hassell potentially be passing on if he chose Vanderbilt over the pro ranks? Rexrode explained it like this.
"And a lot of things that sound nice one day sound a little different when there’s a $5 million signing bonus on the table. If Hassell goes No. 8 to the Padres, as The Athletic’s Keith Law and others among mock-draft creators have guessed, the bonus value assigned by Major League Baseball to that pick is $5,176,900. The labor deal of 2012 put constraints on bonuses teams can give out to draftees, assigning a total bonus pool to each team based on where it is picking. Teams can go higher on a particular player, but if they exceed their total pool number, they can be penalized in cash and draft choices. That has essentially locked things in at or close to the MLB-assigned values, eliminating the sky-high bonus — such as the one that got Joe Mauer to choose baseball over college football in 2001, a record $5.15 million at the time."
That's life-changing cash for anyone, especially a teenager who is just graduating from high school and still living at home with his parents.
"Vanderbilt makes this hard," said Hassell, who will study business if he goes the college route. "It's such a prestigious college first off, such a prestigious degree, and then the coaches — Corbin, Browny (Scott Brown), (Mike) Baxter among others, and the players, I've been around them and really like them. Guys like Kumar, who has unbelievable talent and is just a great guy. Coach Corbin develops those guys, wins national championships, and it's right down the road. I definitely feel an attachment to Vanderbilt."
A middle Tennessee native, Hassell stared at Independence High in Franklin, and would remain close to home should he choose college over cash. He was a Volunteer fan growing up according to Rexrode, but when Tennessee underwent a coaching change, it was Corbin and the Commodores who took advantage.
Now the question is, will Corbin and company reap the rewards and have Hassell playing at Hawkins Field, or will the money be too much?