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College or pros? Texan Lutz to face decision

High school outfielder grew up a Rangers fan, and there's a chance they could select him
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Two weeks from now, Arlington-Martin High School outfielder Tristen Lutz will be making what could be the biggest decision of his life.

Lutz is MLBPipeline.com's No. 34 prospect in the nation for the Draft, which begins June 12, and plenty of mock drafts have him going in the first round. He'll be choosing between signing with a Major League team or turning it down to play at the University of Texas, and either way, it'll be a dream come true.

ARLINGTON -- Two weeks from now, Arlington-Martin High School outfielder Tristen Lutz will be making what could be the biggest decision of his life.

Lutz is MLBPipeline.com's No. 34 prospect in the nation for the Draft, which begins June 12, and plenty of mock drafts have him going in the first round. He'll be choosing between signing with a Major League team or turning it down to play at the University of Texas, and either way, it'll be a dream come true.

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Arlington-Martin is the premier baseball program in the city, and Lutz could join former pros Todd Van Poppel and Ben Grieve as Major Leaguers who went there. The only difference is he could get selected by his hometown Texas Rangers -- his favorite team growing up -- who have drafted four players from Martin, but none before the 18th round.

Signing with a professional organization out of high school, though, means he'd have to elect to not go to Texas, his dream school and the one he's been committed to since 2015. It's a tough call to make, but it's one where there's not really a wrong choice.

"I can just say if it's the right opportunity and situation, I feel that I'm mentally and physically capable of going out there and starting at age 18," Lutz said. "But then again, I have no problem with going to my dream school in Texas."

Lutz had his mind set on Texas, but after the 2016 Draft, he began receiving more interest from scouts and professional organizations.

Even when he's been consistently talked about as a first-round prospect, Lutz was determined to block out all the noise, keep his head down and do what he set out to do above all else: win Martin a state title.

"Ultimately, this season, I came in saying, 'I don't care what my ranking is. I don't care anything about myself other than I want to win state as a team.' And that's all I put my effort into this season, was working to be the best team that we could be, to ultimately go and win state," Lutz said. "So that's what I kept my mind on. I don't worry about the rankings, I don't believe in any of that stuff. I just keep my head down, do my work and worry about the team."

And instead of the newfound spotlight shining too bright on him, Lutz embraced it, and he used it to become a better player in his senior year.

"[I'm impressed with] the way he's matured and handled the scrutiny that he's been under since the first day we started practice," said Arlington-Martin High School coach Curt Culbertson. "Some guys, you put that kind of scrutiny on them and they don't handle it well. He tended to feed off of it, so I was real pleased with the way he handled his situation."

Were Lutz to get drafted in the first round, he admitted he'd give it some serious thought before coming to a decision. And with the Rangers holding a pair of picks (26, 29) around the range Lutz has been projected to go in, there could be another layer of intrigue to Draft day.

But above all that, for Lutz to spurn his dream school, it'd have to be the perfect situation for him to go pro.

"He's a smart kid. He knows and I know and everybody knows he's in a win-win situation," said Culbertson. "He's going to go to the college that he's dreamed of going to forever, or he's going to play Minor League Baseball with a possibility [of playing] Major League Baseball. There's not a downside to that."

Sam Butler is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

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