Greenwich’s Olmstead chooses UConn over Texas Rangers

Greenwich resident at upcoming University of Connecticut freshman Taylor Olmstead swings for the fences during Saturday's American Legion game against Fairfield. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich resident at upcoming University of Connecticut freshman Taylor Olmstead swings for the fences during Saturday’s American Legion game against Fairfield. — John Ferris Robben photo

And now Greenwich resident and recent GHS graduate Taylor Olmstead can take a deep breath and enjoy his summer, while University of Connecticut head baseball coach Jim Penders will have a smile on his face during the Fourth of July weekend.

After facing the incredibly difficult choice of signing with Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers or attending UConn in the fall, Olmstead decided that his best option is to play baseball with the Huskies.

“He’s a well-rounded kid and represents his community extremely well,” Penders said. “We are proud to have him on board. He’s a really good student and had his pick of schools too. He could have studied in the Ivy League and played two sports there, but I am proud that he saw something in our program that he wants to be a part of. It shows that we can attract Connecticut’s best baseball players, but some of Connecticut’s best people.”

He announced his decision exclusively on The Press Box with Rob Adams, a weekly sports talk show that runs Monday nights on WGCH 1490 AM in Greenwich. Olmstead found out he was drafted in the 13th round (400th overall) by the Texas Rangers on the same day he was attending his senior prom at GHS.

“It was a great experience for me,” said Olmstead, who talked to the Greenwich Post on Tuesday. “It was awesome and I’m honored to have been chosen by the Texas Rangers. I think the best choice for me was UConn and every day I would sit down and think about it with my family and discuss it with my family, my coaches and everybody. I just tried to think about what would be best for me and how it would play out for me. At the end, I felt UConn would be the best option for me as a student-athlete and as a person.”

The decision to play baseball for the University of Connecticut was far from easy. Olmstead said he had numerous pros and cons for each side and options for each choice.

“It was a very tough decision, Olmstead said. “In the end, the big thing was that going to UConn, I was going to get my education, go to school and play for a great program that has great coaches. Hopefully I will help them get better and I will only improve my skills. I couldn’t be more excited to be playing for Connecticut.”

For Penders, having Olmstead listen to what UConn can bring to the table and to play for collegiate baseball made a lot of sense in his mind.

“I am very happy,” Penders said. “I know it takes a lot of courage to make the decision he made. He’s going to walk into a lot of places around Greenwich and having people ask him how he could pass up the Texas Rangers. Most often people don’t understand that you don’t go to Yankee Stadium the week after you sign. I think Taylor has such a good head on his shoulders and comes from a good family. He understands that you don’t have to give up on your dream playing Major League Baseball and, in fact, he’s going to get closer to playing Major League Baseball in a Division I program such as ours.”

Now that the decision process has concluded, Olmstead could relax and enjoy his summer a little more.

“I am very excited to be a Husky and to play baseball there,” Olmstead said. “Making the decision was very tough on me. Playing pro ball is a once in a lifetime chance, but hopefully I can get better at UConn and you never know what could happen from there. I want to improve and get better. Now that I made my decision, I can relax and finally play baseball and not have to worry and put too much pressure on myself.”

Just like the scouts for the Texas Rangers noticed, Penders is highly-impressed with Olmstead’s tools, saying that’s he’s big, physical and can move his body really quickly.

“He’s a leader and that’s the biggest thing that he’s going to bring, Penders said. “He has a sound approach at the plate, can hit for some power and I don’t think he’s close to maxing out yet in terms of his ability to drive the baseball. When a pitcher makes a mistake, I know Taylor will make him pay. He’s fast and he brings an expressiveness that you don’t see in a big guy like him. He’s going to bring a lot of athleticism, most likely in our outfield and at the plate. But he has some versatility too. He can move to a couple of positions. He’s going to blossom as an outfielder and as a hitter with the University of Connecticut.”

“I plan on bringing some hard work and leadership, which are the skills that I learned at Greenwich High and with the Greenwich Cannons,” Olmstead said. “I think it’s going to be a great experience at UConn and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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