VU All-American still doesn’t know fate

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 1:30am

Ask Dominic de la Osa where he will be in two months, and he shrugs his shoulders.

“I wish I could answer that question,” he said. “I wish I could answer that question for myself.

The future for the Vanderbilt All-America outfielder remains uncertain while he negotiates with the Detroit Tigers, who drafted him in the 10th round of last month’s Major League Baseball Draft.

De la Osa wants to play professionally, but he believes the statistics he posted for Vanderbilt in 2007 make him worth more financially than the Tigers are offering.

“I think I’m a better player than a 10th-round pick,” de la Osa said.

Major League teams have until Aug. 15 to sign their draft picks. The Tigers and de la Osa could negotiate right up to the deadline.

In 2007, while Vanderbilt was ranked No. 1 for most of the season, de la Osa exploded offensively as a junior, batting .378 with a team-high 20 home runs.

Commodores coach Tim Corbin, expecting de la Osa to be a second- or third-round draft choice, all but conceded that de la Osa would bypass his senior season in 2008.

Things changed when de la Osa tumbled into the 10th round.

“I was a little surprised,” he said. “If I was drafting me, I would have drafted me earlier. I thought I would go earlier. I have no idea why it happened.”

De la Osa, who is playing summer baseball in the Cape Cod League, said his struggles in the NCAA Tournament might have left a lasting impression on scouts.

He did not drive in a run in three NCAA Regional games against Michigan, which pulled a shocking upset by eliminating the Commodores at Vanderbilt’s Hawkins Field.

“I wish I could have done better in the regional,” de la Osa said. “It was upsetting that we lost.”

Motivated to atone for Vanderbilt’s early flameout, de la Osa said he would gladly return to Nashville for a final season if he and the Tigers fail to agree to financial terms.

With de la Osa in the lineup, the 2008 Commodores would feature all their best hitters from 2007, including third baseman Pedro Alvarez and shortstop Ryan Flaherty.

“It’s a win-win either way,” de la Osa said. “Professional baseball is my ultimate goal, but if I don’t sign, I can come back to school and graduate.

“I would love to go to Omaha (for the College World Series). That would be a dream come true. Having the same lineup as last year would be awesome.”

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