The chances of making it to the major leagues are slim.
That's a reality that thousands of amateur baseball prospects face as they trudge up a lengthy ladder that includes college baseball and likely ends in the minor leagues. All without ever donning an MLB jersey.
Those odds, however, lean in favor of former Henry Clay standout Walker Buehler, who was selected with the 24th overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in this year's draft. It is an organization he didn't anticipate being a part of.
"I was a big (Cincinnati) Reds fan," Buehler said of growing up. "It's pretty cool. I was kind of surprised (to be drafted by the Dodgers). I didn't really know too much about them. I haven't talked to them a whole lot."
Buehler, who has yet to sign a contract to play for the Dodgers, has a four-pitch repertoire that includes a 90-96 mph fastball that sinks, a vicious change-up, and a deceptive curve ball and slider.
And despite making a name for himself as one of the nation's top pitching prospects, he has also had his share of skeptics that have denounced his build — he's 6-foot-2, 175 pounds — and said that he needs to work on his consistency after an up-and-down spring.
That hasn't fazed him.
"I don't know what you really want me to do about that," Buehler said of his size. "I work my tail off in the weight room and try and get as big and strong as I can. This is what I was born with and I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Buehler finished his career at Henry Clay with a 16-12 record, but held an impressive 2.11 ERA with 234 strikeouts. That was good enough to get him drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 14th round in 2012.
But the odds of playing in the big leagues after being drafted that low aren't good. So Buehler decided to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt, one of the nation's top college baseball programs.
"I was blessed to have the opportunity to play at Vanderbilt," he said. "The players that they've produced, and just kind of how they do things there. They set you up pretty well for the next level. I wouldn't change a thing."
Buehler went 21-7 with 260 strikeouts and a 2.87 ERA in 51 games at Vanderbilt. He played a large role in the Commodores' College World Series championship in 2014 but struggled to find a rhythm this season. He pitched 881⁄3 innings and posted a 2.95 ERA with 92 strikeouts on his way to a 5-2 record.
His final moment in a Commodores uniform came in the deciding Game 3 of the College World Series against Virginia. Buehler pitched three innings and was pulled after giving up a game-tying two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning. Virginia went on to win the title 4-2.
"I wish we could have won the last game," he said. "But I don't think that defines us. Obviously, Virginia is one of the programs in the country that we respect, and we're happy for them."
Now he's only concerned about the next step, negotiating his contract and getting started in the minors.
"The further you look into it the worse off you are," Buehler said. "You have to try and get better today, tomorrow and the next day. You have to keep on moving forward and hopefully you make it. If not, you die trying."
He doesn't worry about how soon he gets called up to the majors.
"To be honest with you, one of the biggest things they talk about at Vanderbilt is that there's no such thing as a grind," he said. "They say this whole thing's a grind, but if it was that bad you wouldn't do it. It's an opportunity every day."