In his first at bat as a freshman for Moffat County High School, Jerod Estey hit a home run. Fourteen home runs and almost three years later the MCHS senior has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas to play baseball.
"I wasn't even sure I'd get to play my freshmen year," he said. "I also would have never guessed that I would be recruited as a top prospect in baseball. It's been a thrill and I don't regret any of it."
Estey was recruited by some of the top college baseball teams in the nation including Stanford, Louisiana State and Wichita State. He verbally committed to UNLV and signed Thursday during the early signing period because he said he was impressed with the team, its staff and the school.
The being impressed part was reciprocal.
"We consider Jerod as one of the top two-way players (pitching and batting) in the country," said UNLV head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle.
"We only try to sign guys in the fall that we believe are the best of the best."
Estey was the best of the best in Colorado last year as he was named the player of the year in Class 4A. As a junior Estey batted .519 and finished with a 4-3 record and 2.40 ERA on the mound.
"We give credit to the good Lord who blessed him with this talent," said Jarod's father, Wayne Estey. "He has worked hard in the classroom and on the field to get where he was today."
As Estey signed the letter he looked to his coach Kip Hafey and said, "I hope I'll be signing another one of these this year."
The slugger was referring to a major league contract in June after the amateur draft. Estey said he has not ruled out going pro if the right opportunity presents itself. Schlossnagle said as a college coach, losing players to the draft is something that comes with the territory.
"How high Jared goes in the draft depends a lot on his senior season," he said. "There are a lot of factors that people look at and it's hard to tell. He hasn't played in the most competitive area, but obviously we think he's a quality player."
Jerod's father said the decision is up to Jero.
"I trust him with the decision," he said. "He has worked hard to get where he is and I trust he'll do the same either in the minors or at UNLV."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org