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Baseball Beginnings Exclusive: Dylan Covey Bypasses Brewers; Rumored Shoulder Injury turns out to be Type 1 Diabetes; Will Play for the University San Diego

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August 16, 2010

California high school right-hander Dylan Covey has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and will honor his commitment to play college baseball at the University of San Diego, bypassing signing a professional contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, who drafted him with the 14th overall pick, Covey told Baseball Beginnings exclusively Monday night.

Covey said that college baseball would be a better fit for adjusting to his new lifestyle than would professional baseball at this point. He stressed that there were no ill feelings toward the Brewers organization, and decided for himself that college would make the transition to a diabetic lifestyle smoother.

Covey, whose late-season slump fueled speculation that he had a shoulder injury, received a clean bill of health for his arm in a pre-draft medical examination last weekend.

However, blood work showed that he has Type 1 diabetes, a condition he previously did not know he had. The diagnosis explained his late season velocity drop and threw a curveball into Covey’s future plans.

Covey said the decision became about how to manage his health in the immediate future. He said he believed that college baseball is a better option to learn how to regulate and maintain the lifestyle. Both Dylan and his father, Darrell, expressed positive feelings toward the Brewers. They both said negotiations were not acrimonious, but conducive to what was best for Covey’s future. The family declined to discuss financial specifics.

“The news was such a shock to me,” Dylan Covey told Baseball Beginnings Monday night. “It explained a lot of what went on late in the season. At this point, it’s going to take about six months to get used to the treatment cycle. I’ve got about six months till the college season begins. This is all new stuff and a lot of it is hard to remember. I just felt like it was going to be easier to get used to what this lifestyle is going to be in college than in pro ball.”

Darrell Covey said the Brewers and Dylan were close to signing Saturday night and didn’t expect any complications.

“The Brewers have been very supportive through this whole ordeal,” Darrell told Baseball Beginnings. “A few days ago everyone was convinced Dylan would sign without a hitch. As time went by, the Brewers had to do some of their own due diligence to figure out what it would take to take care of Dylan. They still wanted him and were still convinced he would be a good big league pitcher. As time went on, we were discussing the idea of having him go to school, being in a more controlled environment from our point of view, for his health. The unfortunate point of view is we do not have time to think about this stuff. The bottom line is that it was Dylan’s call. The bottom line is Dylan was leading the charge to go to school.”

Dylan Covey visited specialist Dr. Andrew Drexler at the Gonda Diabetes Center at UCLA on Monday afternoon. Drexler told the family that it was 95 percent certain that Covey’s diagnosis is correct. On Sunday night, Dylan spoke with Mariners pitcher Brandon Morrow, who also has Type 1 diabetes, and who was a first round pick out of Cal.

“The big thing I got from him is that I can compete with it and I can be successful, but it takes a little bit of time to get used to it all,” Dylan said. “After a while, it should become like normal. I have no hard feelings toward the Brewers at all, not one bit. This became a health question instead of a business decision overnight.”

Covey’s draft stock soared after his first start of the high school season in March. He struck out 12 in five innings and commanded his fastball at 93-94 mph into his final inning. Covey’s curveball, considered his separating weapon, was 81-83 with tight rotation.

By early May, scouts began expressing concern that Covey’s stuff was slipping. The dip was very subtle but noticeable. Instead of 93-94 in the sixth inning, he was 92-93. The curveball, while still sharp, wasn’t as hard – dropping from 81-83 to 77-79.

When scouting directors came to see Covey, many saw him pitch with declining stuff. Rumors and speculation began to circulate about why Covey’s velocity was dropping. In Covey’s final high school start, he was a spent horse, laboring to keep his fastball around 90 mph with no sign of his put-away curveball.

Darrell Covey believed some scouts started the rumor that Covey’s shoulder was injured without obtaining evidence or asking the family for clarification or medical records that showed Covey’s shoulder was healthy.

According to Mayoclinic.com, symptoms of untreated Type 1 diabetes include rapid weight loss, increased loss of fluids, extreme hunger and fatigue – all symptoms that rapidly sapped Covey’s strength through late April and early May. By late May and the final start of his high school career, Covey was struggling to finish his trademark curveball and labored to keep velocity above 90 mph.

Dylan Covey said he hadn’t felt right for the last few months of the high school season. Darrell said that the Brewers still believed Dylan was a front-line prospect even after the diagnosis. Darrell expressed appreciation that the Brewers did not jump to conclusions and gave Dylan the chance to make the final decision without intimidation tactics.

“We felt the Brewers were more than fair and compassionate in this process,” Darrell Covey said. “We’d be honored to talk to the Brewers again. They were willing to bend over backwards.”

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