I feel that I should contribute something from my area of what some might call expertise, having been in seminary formation myself and expecting to work in it in the future.
For Oakland, this means the loss of a former second round pick: hard to swallow but hardly devastating. I'll leave most of the analysis to others, but I will say that Desme is not expected to be a superstar.
As for Desme, he is leaving a game that I assume he loves very much in order to pursue a calling from God. That is no small statement. When I was in college, I was interviewing a priest for a journalism class and asked of him: "What advice would you give guy who was considering the priesthood?" He responded, "Every guy should be considering the priesthood." This blew my mind. It had never occurred to me that God is calling all of us to a certain way of life and service, and that plan would be far greater than any one that we ourselves could devise. Within a year (and due to many other factors), I was entering the seminary, ready to give my entire life to service within the Church. We all have choices and sacrifices to make in our lives, but God is truly trying to guide us through them.
This is what this all boils down to: Grant Desme has not made a career choice but a life choice. He himself says,
I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life.... It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him.
He wants to be a part of something greater than himself. Perhaps baseball was an expression of that desire, but he now believes that this desire has actually been trying to draw him into something else. He is discovering who he truly is. All people need to do this at some time in their lives. He will continue to discover himself more and more through seminary formation. Perhaps he will persevere to ordination, perhaps he will not. There are no guarantees in becoming a priest. Roughly three-fourths of all men who enter seminary formation leave before becoming a priest. Some leave the seminary bitter, angry, or unhappy, but most of those who leave do so knowing that they have lived a truer life because they sacrificed things to seek God and his will. They have had the opportunity to get know themselves and God to a greater degree than they did before because they approached formation with an open heart and strong fervor. And they will put the knowledge and skills that they gained and developed to use in the world in some other means. They haven't given up on their calling. They are still pursuing it.
Of course, this likely spells the end of Desme's baseball career. Having little to no college education, he has roughly eight years of discernment before ordination. (One article said ten years, but it should not take that long. If he has any usable credits it could come down as far as six.) Should he enter seminary and decide to leave rather quickly, he may be able to salvage something. But he is willing to give the game up for something he sees as more important. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?" (Matthew 16: 24-26) I applaud him for doing so and will pray for his discernment. He will be under a lot of pressure to leave and return to baseball, as well as pressure to be ordained because he gave up such a high-profile lifestyle for something that is not guaranteed. It's funny. I haven't been in the monastery for a great length of time (I'm still in my twenties), and I occasionally think about attending an open try-out to give baseball a try. (Of course, anyone who knows me is laughing hysterically right now because I am a terrible baseball player. I was a decent athlete, and baseball is the sport I would most love to continue playing, but it was never going to happen.) Now Grant is leaving the game for a life similar to mine. That's why God gives us so much fervor in the early stages. We would never make it otherwise.
If anyone has any questions about seminary, I would be happy to try answering them. For those of you who think Grant is a fool, even if you don't believe in God, consider this: Would Grant--who believes very strongly in a God who is active in the world--be happy if he didn't pursue what he sees as his true life? It is a heavy burden to live in a way contrary to how you see yourself. "The truth will set you free." (John 8:32) May Grant open his heart to God's love and find what he is truly called to be and to do.
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.... It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain." ~ John 15: 11, 16