Jake Sisco wanted to make the jump to the pros after his senior year of high school. He got his chance after being drafted in the 37th round by the San Francisco Giants, but the money wasn't right.
When it became obvious a deal wasn't going to be worked out, the scouts gave Sisco some advice on how to better his stock.
"They said go to college and do what you did last year, only against better competition," Sisco said. "I thought I'd be able to do that, so I really haven't thought about it much since then.
"My only concern coming into the season was doing my best, every pitch, every inning, every game."
The Merced College freshman has come darn close to realizing those goals.
With four above-average pitches that he can command, Sisco has thrived in the junior college game.
He is tied for the state lead with 10 victories entering the playoffs and posted a 1.72 ERA along with a state-best 105 strikeouts in 94 1/3 innings.
"We knew he had good stuff, but I didn't see this season coming. Not based off of the fall," MC head coach Chris Pedretti said. "We knew what he did in high school, but until a guy gets a chance to compete at this level and elevate his game, you're never quite sure what you have.
"He really developed quickly, though. The first few outings he'd be doing great and then all of a sudden hit a wall around the sixth or seventh inning.
"Now, he has a good chance of going nine every time he takes the mound."
As dominant as Sisco's numbers have been, it's the way he battles on the mound that has won over his teammates and the MC faithful.
The Blue Devil ace hasn't found himself in trouble too often, but when he does, he's got a knack for fighting his way out of it.
"I thrive in pressure situations," Sisco said. "I tend to be at my best when I get a couple guys on and nobody out or the tying run on third.
"I just say to myself 'Let's go.' It's not like I wasn't focused before, but I just go into this super-heightened focus mode and do whatever it takes to get out of the jam."
Sisco's also shown that if an opponent doesn't get to him early, odds are it isn't going to happen.
He has a tendency to get stronger as the game goes along, picking up the bulk of his strikeout totals in the later innings.
"I think he has a tendency to try to go out early and overpower everyone with his fastball," Pedretti said. "As the game goes on and he settles down, you tend to see more of his slider and curveball.
"When he's mixing them all in, he's usually his most effective. That's how he's managed to have high pitch counts early in the game and still be around to get the complete game."
It's those intangibles that have opened numerous opportunities for the right-hander.
Some of the army of scouts that have regularly attended his home starts have said he could go in the first 10 rounds of this year's amateur draft. A number of Division I four-year schools have shown interest as well.
Sisco is open to either scenario, allowing him to roll with whatever the future brings, while focusing intently on the here and now with the Blue Devils.
That focus will shift to No. 11 Marin (24-12) as the MC ace is set to toe the rubber today in the opener of a best-of-three NorCal first-round playoff series. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Blue Devil Diamond.
"This is what we've been playing toward all season," Sisco said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in the playoffs.
"We're a confident team and, I don't see any reason we can't meet our goal of making the state tournament."