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Thomas Pauly ’04 enjoying curve ball life pitched him

by Sara Peters

A few weeks before spring training starts, most baseball players spend their time doing extra push-ups, eating extra cookies, or sleeping extra late. Few baseball players choose to spend their last weeks doing extra algorithms and polishing up a chemical engineering thesis.

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Thomas Pauly’s baseball card.

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Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Thomas Pauly ’04 traded his position as a chemical engineering student to play in the minor league system for the Cincinnati Reds.


Yet, Thomas Pauly ’04 took this second, less-traveled road. Last June the Cincinnati Reds drafted Thomas into their minor league system. Yet Thomas, a chemical engineering (ChE) major, needed to hand in his thesis before beginning training on March 5. He is now playing on the Reds’ A team the Dayton Dragons in Dayton, Ohio.

For those who are not Sports Illustrated subscribers, minor league baseball is organized into several levels. Players are assigned from bottom to top in rookie, A, AA, and AAA teams.

“It’s really a great surprise,” Thomas said. “A lot of kids who play college baseball dream about pro baseball. For me, it was so far away that it never even crossed my mind. I just got lucky.”

Thomas, who has the overly casual, deep, scratchy voice of most young men his age, will credit just about anything but his own talent for his accomplishment. For example:

• His high school coach was friends with the Princeton University coach.

• In high school he was a two-sport athlete. In college he was able to focus on baseball.

• He started growing late and didn’t really mature physically until college.

• He worked out a lot so he wouldn’t “embarrass” himself on a baseball field.

He even gives chemical engineering some credit.

“Since ChE is so hard, I would use my baseball workouts as stress relief,” he said.

However it happened, during his P.U. pitching career he went from throwing 82 m.p.h. on a good day to throwing 95 m.p.h. routinely.

By sophomore year, scouts were paying him attention. At one game several scouts were in the stands to take a look at Thomas’s teammate. Yet, a few voice mails from scouts were waiting for Thomas when he returned to his dorm room that night.

By June following his junior year, he’d been drafted, and he racked up respectable stats last summer in Dayton.

Still true to form as a Princeton student, academics have remained important to Thomas.

“I still have to get my degree, and I have to get it as soon as possible,” he said. “By the time I got drafted I’d already put in three hard years toward my engineering degree. I don’t want to throw that away.”

Thomas is not allowing himself be carried away by major league dreams. He’s not planning any soft drink endorsements yet, though he did sign a few baseball cards for his friends in ChE.

“I don’t know what I’ll do when baseball’s done,” he said. “I haven’t figured it out yet. Nor do I plan on figuring it out for awhile. I’m just playing to win every day, and trying to have fun where I am.”


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