Pueblo West baseball alum bet on himself on path to signing MLB contract

(Anthony Sandstrom)

If there's one thing that former Pueblo West pitcher RJ Dabovich learned the last couple months, it's that there is no one way to achieve an ultimate goal.

His ultimate goal was to get to the professional baseball level. His path involved betting on himself and taking the right steps to make it happen, not necessarily the biggest steps.

Dabovich had Division I plans after high school. He had initially committed to Wichita State to continue his baseball career. A coaching change halted those plans as he didn't feel the same connection with the new staff as he did the one that recruited him.

A change had to be made and a guy that had proven he could generate the interest of D-1 level schools made a decision that on the surface looked like a step backwards.

The reality is it was anything but.

"I didn't really have any big-time offers or any schools that I was comfortable going to," Dabovich said. "One because I wasn't good enough and two, it was so late (in the process). So I sat down with my parents and coaches and people I really trusted and talked about going the (junior college) route and what it meant for me."

He knew one thing that it was going to mean. He was going to have to put his head down and work. His path was only just the beginning. For a lot of high school recruits, the post-high school aim is to head at a Division I school.

For Dabovich, he was going to use the benefits that the JuCo route offered to improve his game and get the next step in the process.

"There are no restrictions on how many practices you can get in baseball," West coach Dan Sanchez said. "For any kid that has a ton of potential, it's a great route. Knowing that he was going to figure that out and grow into that body, I think it was a great decision."

Dabovich made his way to Central Arizona College and finished his freshman year with a 9-3 record and a 1.81 ERA. The Division I calls came quick and the very next year Dabovich was suiting up for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

But he had the option to skip that step all together. He was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the 18th round of the MLB Draft, but opted to go to Tempe instead.

"My goal, my dream was right there in front of me," Dabovich said. "It was a hard decision to make and it actually took me a while. I talked with my family and advisors and we decided that I should bet on myself again so I went to Arizona State."

The decision paid off.

Last month he was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the fourth round of the MLB Draft. He was taken just four picks after Douglas County senior Case Williams.

Dabovich signed his contract with the Giants organization and is now officially a Major League Baseball prospect. But his journey is far from over. And if he's learned anything in the last three years, it's that there is no one way to get to his desired location.

The important part is knowing how to navigate the trail and he's done fine with it so far.