By Meredith Perri/Field Reporter
A little more than a year ago, Sam Gillikin made one of the biggest decisions of his baseball career. When the Chicago Cubs gave him just a few minutes to decide between being the No. 67 overall pick in the draft and going to college, the high school senior decided to honor his commitment to Auburn University.
A few months later, Gillikin found out that he would spend the summer after his freshman year of college playing for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League. The outfielder did not know what to expect on the Cape, but after two months of playing with Falmouth, he knows he made the right decision.
“The draft process was a wild ride,” Gillikin said. “I think the biggest thing I’d say is for guys that are going through it… just follow you heart. That’s what I did, and I don’t regret it one bit not signing.”
Gillikin came to Falmouth after what he referred to as a bad year at school. In just 44 plate appearances, the 6-foot-2, left-handed hitter held a .159 batting average and started in only 14 games. With the challenging first college season behind him, Gillikin said he hoped to turn things around with Falmouth despite not really knowing what to expect.
“I just wanted to come here and get my groove again, and just find my game,” Gillikin said.
In 22 games this season, Gillikin has done just that, hitting in the .300s until a recent rough patch put his average at .282. According to Gillikin, part of his success on the Cape has to do with the Commodores’ coaching staff.
“This has probably been one of the better coaching staffs that I have been around in a long time,” Gillikin said. “They like to come out here and have fun, but also work hard at the same time. It’s definitely improved my game tremendously so far.”
While Gillikin has enjoyed his time in a new environment on the Cape, he has also had the opportunity to see some familiar faces. Daniel Koger, a teammate of Gillikin’s from Auburn, is one of the Commodores’ starting pitchers.
“We’re great friends back at school,” Gillikin said. “I think we’ve definitely grown to be a lot closer now that we’ve lived with each other for two months… We might be a little too close to each other now.”
The Hoover, Ala. native has also had a few visitors from home, including his parents, who came to the Cape for a couple of weeks earlier this season.
“It was great just bringing a little touch of Alabama up here,” Gillikin said. “Having them here is like every single day back home. It’s like them being out here is being in little league having them there.”
Just over a year removed from potentially being a second-round draft pick, Gillikin said he is happy with his decision and loving every moment with the Commodores.
“I’m so glad that I went to school and that I’ve had the experience to come up here,” Gillikin said. “I don’t think there’s really a price you could pay for this experience that I’ve had this summer.”