Elvin Soto sat in the president’s office at Xaverian and, flanked by his head coach Lou Piccola and his proud parents, the Clippers catcher signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of Pittsburgh last Wednesday afternoon.
For more than a year, the switch-hitting senior from The Bronx thought he’d be signing with the University of Arizona, but something funny happened between here and Tucson.
Soto said Arizona recruited a host of catchers and he was worried about heading west just to sit on the bench as a freshman.
“I kind of looked at it like there are going to be six kids I’m going to be competing against when I can probably just stay closer to home, go to a good program, take my success and turn it over there,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out to Arizona, out to the West Coast and waste my time, just waste the year when I can go somewhere else and produce quick and play.”
So last month Soto said he de-committed to Arizona and opened up his recruiting again. Within two hours, offers started flying in.
First came Florida International University, followed by Pittsburgh, Washington, Georgia and Florida State University. But Soto’s mind was made up when he went on an official visit to Pittsburgh.
“I went to visit the school that same week, fell in love with it,” he said. “I visited a couple of programs, but Pitt was a no-brainer. Coach [Joe] Jordano is a great guy, seems like a straight forward guy. Once I got there and went on a visit, I just blended in with the student-athletes there. It was just a good feeling.”
And Jordano told Soto, who played with Team USA in the IBAF ‘AAA’ 18U Junior World Championship in July, just what Arizona couldn’t when it came to playing time.
“He flat-out said I’m going to be the No. 1 guy,” Soto said. “I’m going to catch the majority of the games and the games I don’t catch I’m going to DHing.”
Soto said he also received interest from Louisville, Miami and LSU, but felt most comfortable at Pittsburgh.
“I’m happy with my decision,” he said. “I could have gone anywhere else — ACC, SEC — but I decided to go to the Big East.”
Regardless of where he plays, Piccola said Soto should draw the attention of professional scouts if he plays well.
“If you’re a good player and playing at a high level, whether you’re playing at Arizona or you’re playing in the Big East, I’m sure scouts are going to find you,” Piccola said. “That’s what it’s all about and right now he’s going to get a chance to play right away. I don’t know if he was going to get an opportunity to play right away in Arizona. When you go out there, it’s like a factory. They might carry four or five catchers.”
Soto said he was relieved to finally have a college figured out and that he eased his parents financial burden. Now he turns his attention toward trying to win a CHSAA Class A intersectional title and see if he’s selected in the First Year Player Draft.
“Hopefully I’ll get drafted,” Soto said. “Everyone plays the sport to play pro ball so if it happens, I’m definitely looking forward to it, but if not at least I got myself a scholarship in a good program.”