According to the official Stanford football website, Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Tyler Gaffney will be returning to Stanford to play football during his senior year and to complete his degree. Gaffney was drafted as a junior in the 24th round of the 2012 draft by the Pirates, and spent the 2012 season in State College. The outfielder hit for a .297/.483/.441 line in 111 at-bats, while drawing praise from his coaches for his all-out play on the field.
In the 2013 Prospect Guide, we had Gaffney as the number 43 prospect in the system. His upside looked to be a strong fourth outfielder, with the chance to be an unconventional starter if he could maintain strong on-base skills and gap power in the upper levels. He looked like he could be the 2013 version of Adalberto Santos — a late round pick who had strong numbers in State College, then went on to put up the same numbers in the upper levels.
Gaffney had the following statement on the Stanford web site:
“This is the ideal time for me to return to the Farm and complete the work toward my degree from Stanford University,” said Gaffney. “As a freshman at Stanford in 2009, I had three goals: play Football and Baseball at Stanford and receive my degree. Two of the three have been accomplished; I eagerly look forward to completing the third.
“Additionally, I intend to rejoin my Cardinal football family and play my senior year of college eligibility. As I have grown and matured over the past year, I have come to realize how much I missed my football family at Stanford and how much I missed the game of football.
“I am thankful to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for allowing me the opportunity to play professional baseball. They are a great organization, who permitted me to grow and mature in character. With the benefit of this experience, I will continue to learn about myself and follow the path where my truth will lead me.”
No word yet on whether Gaffney would return to baseball once he finishes his senior year and his degree at Stanford. He’s joining Stanford on April 1st, so he’d miss the entire 2013 season. Taking a year off would make it less likely that he could eventually become a starter in the future, and would hurt his chances of making the majors at all if he does return.
I’ll update this when more information becomes available.