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Godwin takes turn at baseball
Minor League report: Godwin making good on potential.

Date published: 5/1/2005

WASHINGTON--Tyrell Godwin always knew he would play professional baseball, even as passed up a $1.9 million signing bonus from the New York Yankees in 1997 to attend college at North Carolina.

He knew it two years later, even as he spurned the Texas Rangers after they drafted him and offered the speedy and talented outfielder $1.2 million.

And even when he hurt his knee playing football for the Tar Heels, and slipped to the third round of the 2001 draft and the Toronto Blue Jays, where millions were no longer dangled in front of his nose, he knew it.

But Godwin, 25, an intriguing prospect for the Washington Nationals off to a fast start at Triple-A New Orleans, had other things on his mind.

Like he always has.

"I feel like I had the ability to play professional ball but I felt like academically as a kid growing up that there was more for me to do aside from high school and just playing ball," Godwin said. "You are not going to be able to play ball forever."

So Godwin made the rare choice of books over baseball.

Godwin was the valedictorian of his Wilmington, N.C., high school, and wanted to be the first member of his family to graduate college. He played football and baseball at UNC, but attended on an academic scholarship.

When he finally walked across the stage in December of 2000 with a degree in tow, the history major knew it was time to really give pro baseball a try.

When the Blue Jays drafted him in the third round in 2001, there was no regret, even though the first-round money was no longer and his passion for baseball was openly questioned. He still says his decision to graduate from college was the "best move I ever made."

"I don't regret anything I have ever done," Godwin said. "I regret the way people treated me because of the decision I made to go to college and stuff. I don't dwell on it."

He's certainly not regretting it now.

When his path to the majors stalled after four seasons in the Blue Jays' system, the Nationals selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in December, meaning they would have to keep him on the major league roster or return him to Toronto.

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