Tyler Forner’s senior high school baseball season was cancelled due to COVID-19. He wasn’t about to let a pandemic halt his pro baseball aspirations.
Forner, a Camas standout signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants organization Friday night, after going undrafted in the condensed MLB Draft on June 10.
“I watched (the draft) through and prayed a lot on it,” Forner said. “God always has a plan, even if it’s not what you might have expected. I was definitely ready for the call after the draft.”
That call from the Giants front office came four days after the draft, once the contact window opened up for teams to sign undrafted free agents on Jul 14. His signing bonus was $20,000, the maximum allowed for an undrafted signing bonus, an abnormality due to COVID-19.
Forner, a first team all-4A Greater St. Helens League selection as a junior, was set on going pro and fulfilling his baseball dreams. Even if it meant going after the shortest MLB Draft in league history.
“I never thought it was about the money,” Forner said. “I could always go back to school. I feel like since I got my opportunity, it’s time to put it out even if it’s less money than what I could possibly get (in another year).”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound outfielder was preparing for a breakout senior season in hopes to raise his draft stock. He was an all-state linebacker and multi-position leader on the Papermakers 4A state championship football run in the fall.
He had offers to play both sports in college, including several Division I baseball offers. Instead, he was focused on going pro straight out of high school. Once the coronavirus delayed the MLB season indefinitely, and shrunk the draft, Forner began looking at going the junior college route, which allows players yearly draft eligibility, instead of the three-year wait required by Division I schools.
“It impacted him more than any player in our county,” Camas baseball coach Steve Short said in April.
Forner lived in the Bay Area util he was around five or six years old before moving to Camas. He said he talked to scouts with several teams throughout the entire draft process.
As Forner and the Giants were finalizing a contract this week and word got out, he received an outpouring of congratulations from family and friends.
The next steps for Forner are still up in the air.
As MLB and the MLB Players Association are mired in negotiations over when and how a 2020 season may take place, Forner will wait and see if he’ll be playing minor league ball this summer.
He’s heard he could report as soon as July to go work out and train.
Forner is the latest Washington high school product to sign a pro baseball contract. Former Seattle Prep centerfielder Jesse Franklin, who spent the last three seasons at Michigan, was picked by the Braves in the third round. He was the first in-state draftee. Former Central Valley pitcher Jeremy Wu-Yelland, who was a reliever at Hawaii, was picked int he fourth round No. 118) by the Boston Red Sox. Interlake grad and Washington Huskies pitcher Stevie Emanuels was taken in the fifth round (157th).