Steinbrenner coach John Crumbley believed he had lost one of the top hitters Wednesday when he was told rising senior 3B/OF Gerald Bautista was signed to an international pro free agent contract with the Cleveland Indians in the Dominican Republic.
Twenty-four hours later, Crumbley received word that Bautista had a last-minute change of heart, and has decided to return to Steinbrenner for his senior year.
Crumbley said he hasn't heard from Bautista directly, so he will have to wait until the first day of classes Tuesday to know for sure.
Bautista, who just turned 17 last month, would have been able to turn pro because he has dual American-Dominican citizenship, he could sign a pro deal. Otherwise, he would have to first graduate high school before being drafted.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Bautista hit .382 with five homers and 19 RBIs last season. He also performed well at this summer's Perfect Game National Showcase.
He is the son of Dominican-born former major-league outfielder Danny Bautista, who played with the Tigers, Braves, Marlins and Diamondbacks over a 11-year career and won a World Series title with Arizona in 2001.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (email@example.com ; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)