Elliott Anderson didn't want to say it outright, but he gave every indication of what his decision would be.
The former Cartersville High pitcher was selected in the 23rd round of the MLB draft on June 5. A junior on the Auburn baseball team, Anderson had the option to sign with the Kansas City Royals or return for his senior season.
A vast majority of players in Anderson's position were able to make their choice quickly. However, with the Tigers preparing for a Super Regionals trip to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, ahead of a subsequent trip to Omaha, the 6-foot-3, left-handed pitcher had to take a little longer.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play pro baseball and getting my name called is a great feeling," Anderson told the DTN after being drafted. "... You see these guys on TV and you want to play professional baseball. That's something I've wanted to do; that's something I've dreamed of doing as a little kid.
"I love the opportunity to go play professional baseball and thank you to the club that picked me. I don't really know what would influence me, but that's a dream of mine. I want to play professional baseball, and I'm finally getting the opportunity to play at the next level. It's just a great feeling."
That wait is officially over.
On Friday evening, Anderson posted on Twitter, "Thank you @AuburnBaseball for an amazing 3 years can’t wait for the next step! @Royals."
Anderson is set to arrive Tuesday at the Royals training camp complex in Surprise, Arizona. Once there, it's expected that Anderson will undergo a physical before signing his first professional contract.
Anderson will then likely be assigned to one of the team's Rookie ball clubs — AZL Royals (Arizona League), Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) or Burlington Royals (Appalachian League). All three have already started their seasons.
During his time with the Canes, Anderson was part of two teams that reached the state championship series, including winning the title as a freshman. He earned DTN Player of the Year honors his junior and senior seasons.
After not being drafted upon graduating in 2016, he enrolled at Auburn and became a valuable weapon for the Tigers out of the bullpen, although he did start three games this past season.
He improved steadily under the watchful eye of Auburn coach Butch Thompson.
His freshman year saw Anderson make 14 appearances with a 6.39 ERA and just nine strikeouts to eight walks. The following season he began to turn the corner, posting a 5-0 record with a 3.64 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings.
This past season, Anderson made 30 appearances, finishing with a 7-2 mark. He struck out 67 in 65 innings and posted a 4.15 ERA. Anderson saw action in five of Auburn's eight postseason games, including both contests the Tigers played in the College World Series.
Anderson wasn't the only Cartersville native to sign a pro deal this month.
On June 12, Luke Schiltz signed with the Texas Rangers following his senior season at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Taken one round after Anderson, Schiltz spent his first three years of high school at Cartersville High before transferring.
A 6-foot-5 right-hander, Schiltz didn't see much time for the Canes on the diamond but did start several games for the Cartersville boys basketball team that reached the Elite Eight in 2018. Schiltz's family still lives in Cartersville.
Schiltz and Anderson make five players with local ties currently in the minor leagues, joining Sam Howard, Connor Justus and Anthony Seigler.