For two years, since his sophomore season, Carroll's Colin Diehm had thought that he would be headed to Texas Tech.
Even after he missed almost all of his sophomore and junior seasons because of knee surgeries, his future with the Red Raiders, who won Big 12 championships in 2016, '17 and '19 and reached the College World Series in 2016, '18 and '19, seemed promising.
But while the coronavirus pandemic wiped out his senior season at Carroll, it also upended the plans of many young baseball players across the country. And on Saturday, Diehm announced that he would instead play at Florida SouthWestern State, a junior college.
“With everything going on with all the returning players at Texas Tech and all the guys in my class that are coming in, they were talking about redshirting some guys after the fall and seeing how everyone does,” Diehm said.
Many college baseball teams are experiencing a bottleneck after the NCAA granted seniors the option of returning for another year, and other players who would likely have been drafted were not selected in the shortened five-round draft.
“Sitting out for two years already, and the season getting canceled this year – I decided I wanted to go somewhere I could actually play instead of taking that risk of sitting out for another year,” Diehm said.
Diehm, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound left-handed pitcher, picked the same Fort Myers school as his brother, who previously spent a year playing for the Buccaneers.
“My older brother went down there for a year and played, he really enjoyed it down there,” Diehm said. “I connected really well with the pitching coach down there. He's a pretty good guy, and some of the players on the team are really cool.”
When Diehm signed with Texas Tech in November, he talked at length about his comfort with the program in general and the coaching staff in particular. Diehm said he still feels that way about the team, and that he can't say if he'd be more open to time on the bench if he hadn't lost so many games to injuries already.
“Texas Tech being such a big program, I'm sure the training would be a little bit better there,” Diehm said. “It's one of those things, you just don't know until you have to do it.
“I wasn't too bummed out about it, I'm ready to go somewhere where I can play right away, play and have fun with it.”
Diehm had a scope on his knee during his sophomore year, but after playing most of the summer the knee problems continued. A larger surgery that fall wiped out his junior year and the summer that followed. He play on travel teams last fall and in Arizona in January, and could play this summer.
“I feel like I'm the best I've ever been,” Diehm said. “I can locate my pitches really well. There's always stuff to work on, but I feel like I'm hitting the zone pretty well, and pitch longer throughout the game.”
In announcing his change of college plans, Diehm wrote, “Different path, same goal. #JucoRoute.” But he said that path could still involve a stop at Texas Tech if everything works out right.
“After this year or two years, who knows, I may go back down and try to play for Texas Tech, I don't know yet,” Diehm said.