Sometimes the choices that have to be made in life are tough, but when the best decision is made at the right time, opportunities arise that are irreplaceable. Just ask the guy who started playing tee-ball as a little boy on the Vegas dirt. He is making quite the name for himself.
The scorching hot Las Vegas sun might keep some people inside on a warm day, but as a five-year-old, Dylan Drachler was not going to let the temperature stop him. Stepping onto a baseball diamond was exactly where he wanted to spend those fiery days. From a young age there was something about Drachler that was fascinating. Not only could he pitch, but he could catch, play first and third base, center field and shortstop — all as a lefty.
He was athletic, fast, and he had a future that looked as bright as that Vegas sun he played under.
At Spring Valley High School, Drachler was the starting pitcher, starting center fielder, and he was batting third in the lineup. His senior year was a “magical year,” as Drachler’s mom Dottie recalled. Drachler and his younger brother Zane, who was the starting catcher as a freshman, got to play together for one year. The two varsity athletes helped carry their team to the playoffs that season.
“That was like a dream come true,” Drachler said. “[Zane] kind of brought the little kid out in me during my senior year and he just made me realize why I play the game in the first place.”
The influence Zane had on the older Drachler during his last year of high school really put things in perspective for the ball player who was in the process of making one of the biggest decisions of his life — deciding whether to go the professional route or hold off and go to college.
Over a dozen Major League Baseball teams contacted Drachler his senior year, according to Dottie.
A choice like that is bound to affect someone’s life forever, and that can be an overwhelming position to be in. Drachler had been observing those around him who had been in the spotlight because of the game and that gave him some direction. One person in particular who influenced Drachler on what path to take was his cousin and former Georgia Tech starting catcher, Cole.
“Since I was the oldest I looked up to him,” Drachler said. “After sitting down with my cousin, he went the college side, I think I just realized how much more important it was to go to school and get some higher schooling done then to just go and play pro ball as a little 18-year-old kid.”
“He wanted to be in the Pac-12 more than go to the draft at that point,” Dottie said. “He just thought that was a great competitive league.”
Taking the college route just felt right.
Fast-forward a few years and the now-senior and go-to closer at the University of Utah has had quite a college standout career. This past season, Drachler earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors, and he was an honorable mention Pac-12 All-Academic team pick. He finished the 2016 season second on the team with a 2.92 ERA, and he made a team-high 24 appearances. This season he was named to the preseason watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award, an award that is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
“This game has opened so many doors,” Drachler said. “I don’t know if I’d have the option to pursue certain things if it wasn’t for the game.”
Drachler, who is eligible to be drafted this year, has learned a lot being on the team at Utah. Had he passed on the opportunity to go to college, he would have missed out on experiences that cannot be traded for the world.
“I think that our coaches just fine-tuned me, physically and mentally — more mentally than anything,” Drachler explained. “As a little 17, 18-year-old kid you kind of think you have everything figured out. Coming here you really have to grow and mature and go through different things — balancing time, balancing your schedule, being out on your own, even just doing laundry yourself. I think it just helped me grow up more than anything.”
College ball has also taught him to get better every day and to never take the game for granted. When his teammate Andre Jackson got injured, Drachler learned how important it is to give it his all every single day, because the game may come to a screeching stop at any time.
“No matter how tired you are or how sore you may be,” Drachler said, “you just have to play every day like it’s your last.”
As a pitcher, being on the mound is a position that many believe carries a lot of pressure with it, but Drachler does not look at it that way. Instead, he looks to his teammates surrounding him, the guys he has been with for four years to help get him through whatever it may be – a couple innings or life outside of the ballpark. College has brought him another family, a group full of baseball brothers that he has created relationships with that will last a lifetime.
The decision to hold off on professional baseball so he could receive an education and compete in the Pac-12 as a member of the Utah baseball team has impacted his life for the better. As for the future, Drachler hopes to move onto the MLB after his time at Utah comes to an end.