WINTER HAVEN — Polk State Baseball's latest recruit entertained offers from the pros and Division I teams — but in the end it was the Eagles that closed the deal.
Daniel Sweet recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Eagles beginning in the fall, a decision he said wasbased on the strength of the program and particularly of its coaching staff.
"I'm looking forward to winning. (Polk State Baseball Head Coach Al Corbeil) is a winner, so that is good. I want him to be as tough on me as possible because I want to reach my full potential. I think if he stays on me, I can reach my full potential, which could be something great," said Sweet, who comes to Polk from Northwest Rankin (Miss.) High School.
In his senior year, Sweet had a batting average of .394 and led his team with 43 runs. He was the team's third highest hit contributor, with 26. Sweet also led the team with 18 stolen bases and nine hit-by-pitches. His .623 on-base percentage was the team's best, and he made only one error all season.
Because of his outstanding high school career, the Cincinnati Reds selected Sweet as the 712th pick (23rd round) in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. However, Sweet and the Reds could not reach an agreement on acontract before the July 13 deadline.
"My parents told me the decision I made was going to be life-changing," said Sweet. "The deal wasn't good enough to risk my baseball career. Once you sign, you give up your amateur status, so if you don't make it in the pros you're done."
Sweet had originally signed to play for Youngstown State University out of high school, however a coaching change detoured his commitment to the Penguins.
"The coaching staff got fired and I just did not want to be part of the new staff," said Sweet.
Through a twist of fate, Sweet is currently playing in the Florida Collegiate Summer League with the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, and is teammates with former Eagles Christopher Waltermire and Michael Danner. Waltermire and Danner, along with Summer League Head Coach Kevin "KD" Davidson, played a major role in Sweet's decision to attend Polk.
"I heard some good things about the program from Michael Danner," said Sweet. "I spoke to KD about Polk, and he told me that is the place I needed to go. KD told me Corbeil is a really good guy, and on top of that they went to the JUCO World Series. They have a real serious development program and Corbeil likes to win. My goal is to get to the Major Leagues and from what I hear about Corbeil, he can help me get there."
Corbeil said he is excited to add Sweet to the Eagles roster.
"From talking to his summer league coach and a couple of guys from last year's team and from what I hear, he has a really good work ethic, which is a big plus for him coming in," Corbeil said. "He is extremely athletic and I think he has a very high ceiling. I think being down here in Florida and playing with us, with the number of games we are going to play in the fall and spring, he should continue to improve and develop."