Delaying the start of his professional baseball career is a decision which Jonathan Hughes is completely comfortable with.
Despite his high MLB draft position last month, No. 68 overall by the Baltimore Orioles, the late second-round selection passed on the big signing bonus to go pro, instead choosing to attend Georgia Tech on a baseball scholarship in the fall.
“I’m very excited about going to Georgia Tech,” said Hughes, who struck out 69 batters and walked only four as a Flowery Branch High senior in 2015. “We prayed as a family and feel like this is what God wants me to do.”
Hughes’ mother, Deanna, said the final decision to forgo the Baltimore Orioles’ offer wasn’t made until July 17, which was the deadline for amateur draft picks to sign.
The sticking point with the Hughes family, according to Hughes, was the signing bonus amount, even though Jonathan declined to disclose an exact figure that Baltimore offered him to sign. According to MLB.com, the 68th pick in the draft came with a value of $907,000. The players picked immediately before and after Hughes signed for $997,500 and $800,000, respectively.
Since Hughes has decided to go to Georgia Tech, he won’t be eligible for the draft again until after his junior season, per MLB rules. Only two players drafted higher than Hughes in 2015 opted not to sign pro contracts.
Once the deadline for signing a pro contract passed, Georgia Tech knew it would be getting the hard-throwing right-hander in Atlanta. Hughes has a fastball that can clock as high as the mid 90s.
After being drafted last month, Hughes said at the time he had every intention to sign. Then it became clear the two sides were not going to find an agreeable financial meeting point.
Now that his decision has been made, Hughes said he’s not looking back. He’s excited to play for the Yellow Jackets. Hughes originally committed to play at Georgia Tech as a junior and signed his letter of intent last fall.
Playing for a few years in college, the 6-foot-2 Hughes will have time to develop more physically, while also fine-tuning his pitch selection, before his name can go back in the pro draft in 2018. He’s also looking forward to the opportunities that earning a degree from Georgia Tech can provide for his future.
The Flowery Branch High graduate said going to junior college, in order to have his name back in the draft sooner, was never a consideration.
“There’s no place I’d rather go than Georgia Tech,” Hughes said.
With college less than a month away for Hughes, he’s starting the throwing program given to him by the Georgia Tech coaching staff. His main obligation right now is running to stay in shape.
With the summer free to enjoy spare time, Hughes said he’s taken time to play golf, usually at Chicopee Woods or Royal Lakes in South Hall. He also took a trip to the beach in Florida to unwind.
Ranked No. 188 among available prospects before the draft, according to the MLB.com Prospect Watch, Hughes had pitching tryouts with the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins and Houston Astros. His tryout with the Baltimore Orioles took place at Camden Yards just days before the draft.