Former E.D. White Catholic and LSU pitcher Cameron Sanders has made the next big step in his journey toward becoming a professional baseball player.
Sanders said Thursday that he has agreed to a contract to start his pro career in the Chicago Cubs organization. He was selected by the Cubs in the 12th round (368th overall pick) of this year's draft on June 6.
Soon after being drafted, Sanders announced his plans to forgo his final season of eligibility at LSU to join the Cubs organization. He made it official by agreeing to terms with the Cubs this week.
“It feels really good,” Sanders said. “I’m really excited. I’m just ready to get it started.”
Now Sanders said he is preparing for the start of his pro career. He will head to Arizona on Sunday for a weeklong minicamp with other drafted players in the Cubs farm system.
Sanders said he is still waiting to learn which minor league baseball team he will start his pro career with this summer but it will most likely be with the Cubs rookie league team.
Sanders said his goals will be to continue developing as a player both mentally and physically for the busy summer season ahead.
“The biggest thing is I will have to get acclimated to everything in the first week and then after that they will send me out to wherever, so I’m ready to see where it goes,” Sanders said.
Sanders finished his only season at LSU by appearing in 18 games with four starts this year. He had a 1-0 record with a 5.59 ERA, allowed 29 hits in 38 1/3 innings with 48 strikeouts and 24 walks. Batters hit .207 off him.
He especially shined in the SEC tournament and in regional play. In the SEC tournament in two games against No. 1 Florida, he shut down the potent Gators offense.
Sanders was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 18th round (528th overall) of last year’s draft, but decided to pass on that opportunity and spend a season at LSU, which was a move he said helped him improve overall as a pitcher and gain experience.
After showing his potential at LSU, Sanders said he was ready to test his skills on the pro level.
“I just felt I would get the next part of my career started,” Sanders said. “It has always been my dream ever since I was a kid. I had a great opportunity to do it this year, so I’m just ready to get it started and get going. Hopefully I could work my way up to the top quickly.”
Former E.D. White baseball coach Shane Trosclair, who was recently named the new head coach at Thibodaux High School, said he was proud to see his former player become a pro player. Trosclair and his three sons have attended many LSU games this season to watch Sanders play, including the SEC tournament.
"I'm very proud of Cameron becoming a Chicago Cub. He and I spoke minutes after he got the call, and I reminded him that I loved him, am proud of him and will always be here for him," Trosclair said. "I'm very proud of how he handled adversity early on in the season which led to a very successful end of season."
Sanders is the son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Sanders, who pitched at Nicholls State University and in the Major Leagues for the Padres, Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers and Cubs over a seven-year (1993-99) career after being drafted by San Diego in the supplemental first round of the 1990 draft.
Scott Sanders said Cubs Senior Vice President, Player Development and Amateur Scouting Director Jason McLeod and his family have known one another for 20 years.
After two years as a pitcher in the Astros minor league system, McLeod started as an intern with the Padres when Scott Sanders was pitching in San Diego in the early 1990s. Sanders said McLeod has known Cam Sanders since he was 1 and used to babysit for him.
Scott Sanders said it was difficult for his son to turn down a chance to play with a historic and prestigious organization like the Cubs.
“I’m really excited for Cameron. This has been a dream for him since he was a kid,” Scott Sanders said. “He has wanted to play professional baseball. I remember like it was yesterday when he was 3 or 4 years old and coming to the park with me. Ever since then, I could always tell he wanted to be a professional baseball player, so all his hard work has paid off.”
Cam Sanders, who can hit 96 miles per hour with his fastball and also throws a curveball, a slider and a changeup, said he is blessed to get a chance to play with his childhood favorite team in the Cubs.
“They are a good program, and my dad knows a pretty good bunch of people in the program,” Cam Sanders said. "Honestly, I would’ve went play for anybody but I like what the Cubs have built.”
Over the years, Scott Sanders said he has shared plenty of advice with his son, ranging from pitching mechanics to living the daily life of a professional baseball player. The elder Sanders said he knows what type of daily grind it will be for his son, but he is confident that the transition will go smoothly.
“One thing he has to learn right away is that now baseball is a job. It’s a totally different game,” Sanders said. “He’s going to have to learn how to take on the daily grind of professional baseball day in and day out. We’re looking forward to him going out there and getting a chance to live his dream. Obviously his dream is to play in the big leagues. He has a lot of work ahead of him, but I know he’s looking forward to it and ready for the challenge.”
Cam Sanders said he has never backed down from a challenge, and he is focused to begin the next chapter of his career.
“I’m extremely motivated,” Cam Sanders said. “Since I was a kid, it has been my dream to play in MLB. I’m going to be ready for my chance to make my dream come true.”