Colin Peluse had the world on the back of his strong right arm going into his junior season at Middletown.
He had already verbally committed to pitch at Wake Forest University, and was seen as one of the top 500 prospects in the country. He had even thrown a perfect game at Frawley Stadium against Wilmington Charter.
With Colin's future after high school seemingly locked up with a full ride to a strong ACC school, part of that arm failed him, specifically, his right elbow.
Colin learned he needed Tommy John Surgery.
"When I had to go to the doctor and they told me I had to get surgery, my first reaction to my family was I'm going to lose the scholarship to Wake, and I'm going to have to find another way to play college baseball. I'm just glad that the coaches down there believed in me and honored the scholarship. I know when I went down there I wasn't a big prospect, I had to fight my way up through there, and I'm happy they kept giving me opportunities to go out there and throw."
Colin worked his way up the ranks, beginning as a mid-week starter, but as his team inched closer to the NCAA Tournament's second stage known as the Super Regionals, he became more vital. Against Florida, with a spot in the College World Series on the line, Colin was out there giving up just 1 hit in 2-plus innings out of the bullpen. The Demon Deacons came up short, but Colin was on his way.
He was promoted to a Sunday starter for his sophomore year, getting consistent outings in the challenging Atlantic Coast Conference, scouts were beginning to notice him, and he was beginning to mature on the mound.
"Now I think I'm mentally tougher. I'm a better competitor. In high school, I was laid back, baseball was fun and everything, and it's still fun now, but now I've brought a more competitive attitude to it. I think that separates me from other guys is how competitive I can be when I pitch."
His competitiveness opened up the doors to one of the elite summer leagues in the country, the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he played for the Chatham Anglers.
"The Cape Cod League is a place where they send guys they believe have a chance to play professional baseball. I was on the team with the 11th overall pick Zack Noll, Michael Busch from UNC was on my team, he was a first-day pick. My roommate was taken in the 3rd round. I was surrounded by guys that were up there on the draft boards, so playing with guys like that it motivates me to up my game and be even better."
The Cape Cod League was featured in the 2001 movie "Summer Catch", and Peluse said despite only making two pitching appearances that summer, it was a unique experience being in Chatham.
"That town, that whole Cape Cod League, it's something out of a magazine. It's almost like you're in a movie. That's how I felt about that place. That place was awesome, it was a little quiet with the games at the start of the year, but towards the end of June, we would have thousands of people come to our games, just to watch us play. You walk about town, and guys want to take pictures with you, or sign something, just because you have a Chatham Anglers hat on. I wasn't up there for long, but it was the most fun month and a half I've had, getting to meet new kids, play in a great place, it was an amazing experience."
Colin returned to Wake Forest for his junior year, suddenly earning the Friday spot as the Demon Deacons' ace, and he struggled to a 3-8 record with a career-high 5.74 ERA.
"I didn't command my fastball as much as I usually do. The slider and other pitches weren't there. It's a tough spot, Friday nights you're facing their best guy, and their bullpen is fresh, and the hitters are always ready. Every game matters, so getting off on the right foot each weekend is very important, especially for us. I didn't pitch well enough on Fridays for us to sweep series or at least snag a win. Friday nights, they're fun, but they're stressful, too."
Undeterred by the losses, Colin still had his eyes on professional baseball. He credits working with new pitching coach John Hendricks in helping him for the future, even if there weren't immediate results.
"I think I did better maintaining velocity. There were times last year I wasn't feeling great and my velo was down 4 miles per hour at some points. I did a better job taking care of my arm and my body at those points. With our new pitching coach (John Hendricks) we were working on a lot of hip-shoulder separation drills, making sure I'm not leaking over the rubber. A lot of little things that I know in a year or so the changes will help me dramatically in the future."
Colin's future may be now, as he heard a life-altering announcement during the 9th round of the Major League Baseball Draft on MLB Network, even if they said his name wrong.
"The Oakland A's select Colin Peluse, a right-handed pitcher from Wake Forest University."
Colin had been taken with the 284th pick, meaning he now had to decide whether to accept the selection, or return to school for his senior year.
"It was a long day, but I got a call from their Area Scout (Neil Evans), and we had connected prior to their pick. I was with my grandparents who came up, my cousins, my aunt, and my two best friends from high school. It was a long day, but having that happen was unbelievable."
On Tuesday, Colin made his choice, signing a $149,300 deal to join the Athletics organization. He's reported to Arizona, and is waiting to see where he'll be assigned.
He talked about what it will mean to get on the mound as a professional pitcher.
"It'll be great. I'm restarting the process over. I'm back to freshman year of college again. I have keep working my way up and keep grinding out all these games and bus trips. It is going to mean a lot every time I step out there, I'm going to pitching for something more this time."
Part of that more is what Colin said is driving him to make it as far as he can in professional baseball.
"It's baseball, it's always been fun. I've been playing since I was three years old. Every time you go out there, something new can happen. It's always great to smell the grass, listen to the crowd, the crack of the bat, well I don't want to hear the crack of the bat, and the pop of the mitt. A lot of motivation also comes from my family, too. They've been sending me a lot of places by myself because they can't come down with me, they've been traveling with me too. They motivate me a lot, so I'm just hoping I can make them proud in the future."
It's pretty safe to say they already are, not bad for someone who thought his career might have been over 6 years ago with pain in his elbow.