By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Realizing boyhood dreams to play professional baseball, Sonoma State pitchers Thomas Lee and Joshua Nervis leave today for rookie league.

Lee signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and Nervis was drafted by the Cleveland Indians.

Just weeks after graduating from Sonoma State, the pair have opportunities to continue playing the game at the professional level after enjoying successful seasons with the Seawolves.

“I was really hoping I’d get a shot,” said Lee, headed to the Cardinals team in Johnson City, Tenn. “I get to play a little longer. I’m happy that I get paid doing it.”

Also staying in shape since the Sonoma State season ended, Nervis is bound for the Indians team in Phoenix.

“This is my dream. It’s in my hands now,” Nervis said.

Rookie league ball runs through summer. Players look to compete well enough to earn promotion to low level minor league teams affiliated with their big league ball clubs.

After four years pitching for Sonoma State, Lee heads into the professional ranks as the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts and innings pitched. Lee, from Bakersfield, was 16-7 with a 3.16 earned-run average and recorded 214 strikeouts in his seasons with the Seawolves.

The Sonoma State ace this season, Lee received First Team All-California Collegiate Athletic Association and First Team All-West Region honors.

Lee signed as a free agent following workouts in front of scouts from a handful of major league teams.

“I’m pretty excited about seeing how far my abilities take me in professional baseball,” Lee said. “Hopefully by the end of summer I have an opportunity to move up.”

The two seasons Nervis spent at Sonoma State put the Oakland native on the draft radar. Overall, he was 7-5 with a 4.73 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 25 appearances.

Nervis was taken in the 38th round of the draft, one of 10 CCAA pitchers drafted this year.

“I put myself in position to be drafted,” Nervis said. “I’ve just got to go out there and pitch and do well and be fine.”

Both players take college diplomas in their pursuit of a professional baseball career. Lee completed a degree in kinesiology. Nervis earned his in sociology.