I was reading a story on MILB.com about Jeff Samardzija and what he might do once he weighs the options available to him. He was most recently a member of the Notre Dame football team but for those that didn’t realize it he was also a member of the Chicago Cubs minor league system. He is a talented player that wants to play both football and baseball professionally. His college football career is done now and his college baseball career ended after the Cubs drafted him and signed him to a contract. Once the Super Bowl is over, we might have a better idea how good of a prospect Samardzija is in the eyes of pro football scouts. Scouts, Inc. lists him as the 17th best prospect available in the 2007 NFL draft and Mel Kiper currently has him listed 10th, but that also depends on any underclassmen that might declare for the draft. If Samardzija really does want to play both sports then I am OK with sharing him, although I would prefer he choose the Cubs and baseball and give up on football but that isn’t likely to happen. If he doesn’t give up football maybe the Bears will take him and he can try to be a 2-sport star in Chicago.
Some wonder how Samardzija can get drafted out of college, sign a contract with a pro team and still play a different sport at the amateur level. I didn’t think it was possible either but since he signed in a different sport, baseball, he was able to keep playing football for the Irish. He also wasn’t allowed to sign any endorsement deals to keep his eligibility for football.
No matter how things worked themselves out, he was able to play a few games with the Boise Hawks, and Peoria Chiefs before heading back to Notre Dame. In five games with Boise he was 1-1, with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, 13 k’s and 6 walks in 19 innings. In 2 games with Peoria he was 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, 4 k’s and 6 walks in 11 innings. It isn’t a lot of exposure in which to fully get an idea what he can do but the numbers he put up definitely show some promise.
Now that the football season is over, he should have a chance to get started in baseball once spring training starts. With the promise that Samardzija has I hope he is able to move quickly through the Cubs minor league system. He was the 20th best prospect going into the 2006 draft but since many knew of his desire to play two sports he was passed over by teams until the Cubs took him in the fifth round. They got him signed and now hope that he plays long enough to get a taste of the majors so they can keep him in Chicago. I think this guy has the athletic ability to play both sports but when you can join the big team right out of college like you can with the NFL it is tough to go back and play baseball when the stage is much smaller. I think Samardzija will be a big talent for the Cubs if we keep him but that is yet to be seen. We can only watch and hope he turns into the player many think he will be before he decides on just one sport.
For more on Thomas’ views on the Cubs, visit www.cubsfanhell.com