After being under the microscope of Major League Baseball scouts for the past 12 months, Tom Robson finally has a potential path in front of him.
The 17-year-old right-handed pitcher from Ladner lived up to the billing of being the top prospect in Canada when the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the fourth round (139th overall) of the MLB Draft.
Toronto is not only Robson's favourite team but, along with the San Diego Padres, had expressed the most interest leading up to this week's draft proceedings.
He had been in regular contact with Blue Jays' local scout Jamie Lehman and other evaluators got to see him shine on the mound for the national junior team, especially at last summer's World Junior Baseball Championships in Thunder Bay where he pitched six scoreless innings against powerhouse Cuba.
"Any time Toronto or San Diego was up, we turned the TV down a bit," said Robson who followed the draft on the internet while watching the Price of Right with his friends on Tuesday morning. "I knew (the Blue Jays) had a lot of picks in the early rounds so there would be a good chance.
"It's something I have been thinking about for a long time so there is definitely a sense of relief to it. You're aware of all the scouts (at the games) but you just had to block out of your mind and focus on pitching. I have grown up watching the Blue Jays and I can't wait to start playing for them."
For that to happen, Robson must come to terms with the team prior to August 15 -- a deadline imposed by the MLB to sign college eligible draft picks. If things go his way, it will happen quicker than his 92-mph fastball.
His Seattle-based advisor Jim Lindell, whose clients include AJ Burnett and North Delta's Jeff Francis, has already begun discussions with the Blue Jays on a potential contract. The main hurdle is expected to be the amount of his signing bonus.
MLB teams typically follow a signing bonus slot based on where a player is selected in the draft. The amount is usually higher for high school age prospects who could play at the collegiate level on a scholarship.
In 2010, the Blue Jays signed 14 of their top 15 picks, with signing bonuses ranging from $2 million to $250,000. Robson is among seven high school age pitchers taken with their top 10 selections and the Jays have indicated they will be aggressive to keep all of them.
Robson is committed to pitch at Central Arizona Community College this fall -- considered the top junior college baseball program in North America. However, he's hoping the Blue Jays make the decision easy for him.
"(General manager) Alex (Anthopoulos) says he wants to sign me as soon as possible and that's what I am hoping for," said the Grade 12 student at Delta secondary school. "But ultimately it still is a business decision. It's got to make sense for me and for them. Usually high school players are looking for (a bonus) that would at least pay their four years of education (equivalent of a scholarship) and then some."
Robson is hoping for a different outcome than one of his off-season training buddies who was drafted by the Blue Jays two years ago
James Paxton was a sandwich first round pick but didn't come to terms with Toronto and went back into the draft. He was taken by Seattle in the 2010 draft and is now considered one of the best starting pitching prospects in the Mariners farm system.
In seven starts with the Class A Clinton LumberKings, Paxton has an impressive 2.11 ERA, while recording 54 strikeouts.
He has been selected to play in the upcoming Midwest League All-Star Game.
"We did some throwing at the DSS gym and at Holly (park)," added Robson. "Pretty neat to think a couple of guys coming from the town the size of Ladner, with 25,000 people, would both be drafted by the same Major League team."