On June 18th, Chris Bostick went through the formality with fellow classmates and crossed the stage at Rochester’s Eastman Theatre to receive his diploma from Aquinas Institute. In actuality, the Gates, New York resident started graduation proceedings almost two weeks prior to the official high school ceremony.
The Oakland Athletics chose Bostick in the 44th round of the recent Major League Baseball draft, and the high school graduate finds himself with plenty of options and time to consider his choices.
“It’s a tossup,” Bostick said when asked if he will sign with the A’s or take advantage of a full scholarship offered by St. John’s. “I haven’t even started negotiating.”
For those who have seen him play, the late-round selection may have come as a surprise, but Bostick took it all in stride.
“I had thoughts of it going through the season,” Bostick said. “I had seen a bunch of scouts and talked to them, but I never could put my finger on when I would get chosen.”
Poor weather conditions worked against Bostick. With the Little Irish not playing from May 14th to the 29th, scouts could not get a chance to see him play.
“I thought the Cubs would draft him in the sixth to eighth round,” Aquinas head coach Mark Magliocco explained. “But 15 days of bad weather hurt his draft choice.”
“It helps to play in the south,” Bostick reflected. “They play 50-60 games. When it comes to the draft, they separate by warm-weather and cold-weather states with warm-weather going early in the draft.”
Bostick hit .510 his senior season for the Little Irish. This after hitting at a .507 clip his junior year and .490 as a sophomore when AQ when the New York State title.
“From day one I have been telling people this kid is unbelievable,” Magliocco said. “He played every position in the field as a freshman. He is so fluid in his movements.”
Being chosen in the draft out of high school, Bostick was able to take advantage of a rule change in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and get a taste of the next level. The NYCBL, a summer wood bat league sanctioned by the NCAA and partially funded by MLB, modified one of its rules during the off-season giving high school seniors, taken in the MLB draft, immediate eligibility for league play. The recent draft pick and the Webster Yankees wasted little time, and the infielder appeared in the pinstripes less than a week after hearing his name called.
“I”m having fun,” Bostick said about playing in the NYCBL. “I like it a lot.”
The new level of play for Bostick means a few changes. Instead of playing seven innings as in high school, NYCBL games go the full nine. Aquinas played just eighteen games this past spring. The Webster Yankees have already logged 14 of their 44-game slate.
“It almost becomes a lifestyle,” Bostick continued. “It’s different playing everyday. Instead of showing up an hour before a game you are there at four to play a seven o’clock game to get in batting practice.”
The Webster nine have won five of eight games with Bostick in the lineup and have jumped to first place in NYCBL’s West Division. The infielder is hitting .576 with three extra-base hits, nine RBI and eight stolen bases.
“He raises the bar for everybody,” said fourth-year head coach Dave Brust. “It’s obvious he is talented, but he brings a level of confidence especially on the defensive side. He gives us a lot of versatility. His ability to make plays has already bailed us out a couple of times.”
“His hand speed is the thing I noticed right away,” added Brust who played three years in the Atlanta Braves’ system. “The sound the baseball makes coming off his bat is unlike anybody else’s.”
The change in NYCBL rules also gave Bostick the opportunity to play with his older brother, Ben. The brothers were teammates at Aquinas and during summer ball in past years.
“I never really thought I would get a chance to play with him again,” Bostick said. “It’s great. That is a big reason why I signed on to play with Webster.”
Bostick’s selection in the MLB draft is the first for the school on Rochester’s northwest side since the Montreal Expos chose Ken Lelek in the second round of the 1975 draft.
“That’s pretty exciting,” Bostick said when asked about the 35 years between the two. “There have been a lot of great players out of Aquinas. To be the one picked means a lot.”
Lelek’s selection came when MLB had a draft in both January and June. Being chosen in January, the right-handed pitcher had not yet played a college game.
“I got letters from teams interested in having me try out,” Lelek recalled. I know Montreal sent one, and I think Cincinnati. Montreal took us up to Jarry Park. I remember going up there with a scout and having us work with the team.”
Lelek didn’t sign with the Expos.
“They would have put me on their rookie league team in Alberta, Canada,” Lelek recalled. “I wasn’t ready. I was just out of high school, and I wanted to play a little bit. I wanted to play professional baseball, but I wanted an education. My dad always said if you’re good enough to play, they’re going to find you. I wanted to get my degree.”
Lelek continued at Monroe Community College and led the Tribunes to their first of seven Junior College World Series appearances.
He was later chosen in the January 1976 and June 1976 drafts before deciding to accept a scholarship to play at Bowling Green.
“The Cubs offered me decent money, but I wanted them to match what Bowling Green was giving me in scholarship.”
Eventually, Lelek tore the medial collateral ligament in his pitching elbow during his first semester at Bowling Green. He returned to pitch but lost his velocity.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Lelek said. “If I was to change anything, I would have redshirted my senior season to allow my elbow to heal.”
For now, Chris Bostick can enjoy the ride and the opportunities available to him. He and the Webster Yankees continue to sit in first place. Meanwhile, he can decide to play professional baseball or accept a full college scholarship.