With a sober reasoning that belied his teenager status, Krook, a fireball-throwing lefty pitcher and product of St. Ignatius, opted to turn down big bucks in June for a chance to play college baseball at Oregon, where he has been dominant this season.
“It was a very tough decision, but in the end, I figured that pro ball could wait,” said Krook, who was drafted 35th overall in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft by the Miami Marlins. “In the end, it was about me being a little selfish — I wanted both the college experience and the opportunity to play in the pros.”
By opting to enter into college, Krook is obligated to play three years for the Ducks, under MLB’s early-entry rules. To put that decision into context, the player drafted in front of Krook — Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea — landed a $3.55 million signing bonus with the Kansas City Royals.
“I just really fell in love with Oregon,” Krook said. “Ultimately, I felt that I could put aside the money for a later day.”
By attending college, Krook has the potential to significantly improve his draft standing, and with his freshman season half over, that outcome is looking more likely. Entering this weekend, the 6-foot-4 freshman has posted a 2-1 record with a miniscule 1.88 ERA. He’s also recorded 56 strikeouts, by far the most on the Ducks, who have a 21-8 record and are ranked 19th nationally.
Despite the gaudy numbers, Krook said the transition to college ball required some serious adjustments.
“The level of hitting here is just so much better,” said Krook, a San Mateo native. “You can’t just throw a fastball by someone or get a batter to go swinging at a curveball in the dirt. I really have to concentrate on making every one of my pitches count and that requires a lot more preparation and mental focus.”
Krook said that kind of meticulous approach extends to the rest of his teammates, which is why he has such high hopes for the Ducks this season. After a 28-year hiatus, Oregon returned to playing Division I baseball in 2009, and the Ducks have quickly ascended up the ranks of college baseball. With a balanced combination of explosive offense and strong pitching, Krook has faith that the Ducks can end the season as national champs.
“There is no question that we have the tools to go to Omaha [site of the College World Series] and come home a winner,” said Krook. “That’s what makes this team and this season so exciting. I couldn’t ask to be in a better place.”