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June 13, 2014

Bearden's Thomas to the Toronto Blue Jays

The University of Tennessee's loss is the Toronto Blue Jays gain.

Bearden 2014 graduate Lane Thomas didn't take long to sign with the Toronto after being drafted in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft on Friday.

Nor did it take the member of the 2013 gold-medal winning USA U-18 World Cup team long to pick a new favorite team.

"Hey, not at all, the draft said it all, it's the Toronto Blue Jays all the way," Thomas said about his new team.

There was not much doubt that the gifted Bearden centerfielder would be selected in the draft, it was a matter of what round and which team. In fact, he had a good idea it might be the Blue Jays.

"I would like to think so. I had several conversations with five or six teams," Thomas said. "I would like to think I could tell who was really interested, and they seemed, to me that they were."

Thomas hammered 18 home runs in 41 games with Bearden this spring and finished with career marks that included a .376 batting average, 44 doubles, nine triples, 36 home runs, 123 RBIs and 177 runs scored.

Thomas left last Tuesday for his rookie league home in Clearwater, Fla.

He had dreamed of being a professional baseball since he began playing the game.

"Since day one, but you know, my mom had to make me play baseball at first," he said. "But as soon as I started playing and developing friendships in the game, it has been a dream from the beginning."

He first realized he might take his game to the professional level following his sophomore season at Bearden.

"I played really well, was offered by Tennessee and knew that school was no longer a worry so I could relax and play," he said.

It's should come as no surprise who the hard working, steady performing athlete would select as his favorite player.

"Derek Jeter is a big player in a big franchise," he said. "He was always a star, seems like everyone liked him and he just played the game the right way, and you never hear about any trouble."

Although his professional career has just began, Thomas has thought about how long before he plays in the big leagues.

"It just depends, they may draft somebody next year that moves along faster," he said. "But personally, I hope, two and a half to three years (before he plays with the major league team). I really don't want it to be more than four years."

Thomas has worked overtime to hone his skills on the diamond. But his single most important element that has him playing professional baseball today is something that lives with him each and every day.

"It's probably, just my love and passion for the game," he said. "Everything from games, travel and friendships have meant something to me. So if you can do what you love, and get paid, that is the perfect situation in my mind."

Tennessee NEWS


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