OWASSO, Okla. — There's an old saying: "Your body is your temple." In the case of professional athletes, it's also their livelihood. Or in the case of former Owasso High School pitcher Braden Webb, it is for aspiring professional athletes as well.
"The ultimate goal that I've been dreaming about since I was little was to go pro," said Webb Wednesday inside a team weight room next to the Owasso High School baseball field.
In 2013, Webb was a junior for an Owasso High School baseball team which completed a perfect season; a rare feat in the sport at that level. Professional baseball analysts already projected him to go anywhere from the first to third round in the 2014 MLB Draft. But as an unofficial backup plan, Webb committed to perennial powerhouse South Carolina.
His elbow had other plans.
"I came out 2-0 my senior season, and in the third game I fractured my arm," Braden recalled. "I got an MRI. [Doctors] told me I was going to need surgery."
That immediately dropped Webb's draft stock through the floor. When the 2014 MLB Draft came around, Braden's name was never called. While University of South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook was still willing to honor Webb's scholarship, Braden took a gamble on his academic and professional future.
"I moved to Maryland to train with my old pitching coach from EvoShield," he explained. Braden was giving youth pitching instruction on the side to cover his expenses. In addition, he spent the next 8-10 months approximately doing his physical rehab and conditioning full time.
Fast forward to June of 2015. With the draft less than a week away, Webb has taken all the necessary steps to get back to that status of a touted pitching prospect. He has continued his conditioning regiment in addition to cryotherapy to boost his recovery.
It appears to be working. According to Webb, his velocity is back to where it was before the injury. And MLB scouts have taken notice.
"He worked out in Dallas at the end of April," Braden's mother Cristan Webb explained during his cryotherapy session in south Tulsa. "All the pro scouts were there. And then he worked out specifically for the Marlins [in Miami] and then the White Sox in Chicago."
In respect to MLB's draft rules and how it coincides with NCAA baseball, Webb is eligible for the 2015 MLB Draft because he never enrolled in college. And if he decides to go to South Carolina this coming fall, Webb will be draft eligible the following year because he'll be 21 years old by that time.
"It's just a 'wait and see' game. I told coach Holbrook I haven't totally decided," said Webb. According to Braden's mother, it comes down whether he'll be drafted early to enough to justify forgoing his college eligibility.
"It all depends on how much money he's going to be offered, really," Cristan explained. "Because it's got to be worth it; to pass up that college experience."