Without an athletic offer at his disposal, the left-handed pitcher and center fielder had planned to attend the Flyers’ walk-on tryout in September in hopes for the best.
That will no longer be the case, Rozman said.
“In the end, they decided I wouldn’t have to walk on and I would just be able to earn a spot,” he said about an offer that came June 19. “I didn’t expect it to happen, but it’s pretty exciting.”
A follow-up highlight reel of his 87 mph fastball complemented by a curveball strikeout pitch may have done the trick, but not without a little help from some prospect gossip between coaches.
In the fall, Rozman attended a showcase at Elon University in North Carolina, where he was recruited and offered a scholarship to play at Brunswick Community College near Myrtle Beach, S.C.. The assistant coach there, Cory Wahl, just so happens to be friends with Dayton’s “They were working a summer camp together last month and were talking about prospects that they had, and the coach from the community college mentioned my name,” Rozman said. “Coach Talarico was like, ‘I’ve heard that name,’ and he took a look back at some of the videos I sent in.
“So Dayton called me up a week before the Cincy Flames tournament and said that they’re pretty excited for me to come down and wanted to see me play.”
Rozman’s club team, Blaze Baseball, was scheduled to play its first game of the tournament at the University of Dayton, and the Flyers were supposed to have a coach present, but the contest got rained out.
Instead, Rozman was able to chat it up with UD’s 15-year head coach Tony Vittorio for about two hours.
“I remember feeling kind of bummed that they wouldn’t be able to see me play,” Rozman said. “But I guess coach Vittorio really liked me when I was talking to him, and I was surprised he gave me the chance to be a preferred walk on. I guess things just went right. Without that recommendation from the coach in North Carolina, I don’t know if it would have happened.”
While playing in fall baseball showcases throughout the Eastern United States during his high school years was ultimately what landed Rozman a Division I baseball opportunity, it didn’t come without a price tag.
After playing quarterback with the Kenston Middle School football program in seventh and eighth grades, Rozman gave up his days on the gridiron to concentrate on baseball.
“I loved it. Like, that was one of my biggest regrets is not playing football,” he said. “I was actually planning on playing football my senior year and went to all the workouts in the summer and stuff. It was a really tough decision, but I knew, if I wanted to play Division I baseball, to have a chance, I would have to go to some showcases in the fall, and that’s why I didn’t play football.”
In fact, Rozman actually considered transferring to St. Ignatius for high school in hopes of having a better shot at a Division I baseball opportunity, he said.
“I had a great childhood, and I just had such good friends at Kenston that I knew I couldn’t leave,” he said. “And high school was definitely the best years of my life, and I wouldn’t go back and change anything.”
With the Bombers, Rozman lettered all four years in baseball and was a first-team all-Chagrin Valley Conference outfielder his sophomore and junior seasons and first-team pitcher his senior season.
During his freshman year, Rozman played as a backup to 2011 graduate Pat Porter, who now plays with Ohio State University and pitched a few games here and there.
“He was probably one of the biggest motivations for me,” Rozman said about Porter. “He was one of the best players in the state, and he showed me how much hard work it takes to be that good. Basically, I wanted what he had. I wanted people to look up.”
One of Rozman’s best memories as a Bomber was coming back from a 9-4 deficit to beat Aurora, 10-9, during his junior season, when the Greenmen went on to advance to the Division I final four.
Rozman earned the victory on the mound that game, pitching the final 2 2/3 innings in relief. He also hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, 9-9, during a two-out, five-run rally that won the game.
“That was one of the best teams I ever played on,” Rozman said. “I’ll never forget winning that game.”
During his time at Kenston, Rozman also played three years of varsity basketball under head coach Josh Jakacki.
“I loved being on the court, because there’s a lot of fans there and a lot of cheering, and the spectator atmosphere is just a lot more hyped up,” Rozman said. “But I love playing baseball. I just love the game of baseball, and there’s nothing more that I wanted to do than extend my career and keep on going and see how far I could possibly go with it.”
Without coaches like Kenston’s Bob Ford and Paul Semall, Rozman said, his baseball career wouldn’t be where he is today, but most notably his parents were the biggest factor to his success.
“My mom and dad, without them, I definitely would not be anywhere,” he said. “They’ve been to every single one of my games. They’ve drove me across the eastern side of the United States. I could never thank them enough for that. They helped me make good decisions and taught me how to be a good man.”