Charlie Law knows what awaits him.
He enjoyed success and experienced disappointment in college baseball and now faces an uncertain future.
But the 23-year-old pitcher from Linwood has a good support system and had an understanding of what to expect when he signed in late July with the Can-Am League's Rockland Boulders, based in Pomona, N.Y.
"If I'm going to achieve my dream of playing affiliated baseball, then it's absolutely now or never," Law said in a phone interview last week.
"I need to open up some eyes in this league, pick it up and keep moving on and moving on. My brother played into his 20s, and he was a great player. But he knew when he needed to move on, and that time is rapidly approaching for me as well. If I'm still at a standstill in a few years then I know it's time to move on. So 'now or never' is the only way I can put it."
Charlie's brother Jason played four years of independent baseball, including two with the Atlantic City Surf. He knows what his younger brother should expect.
"It's less intense than college," Jason said. "College is very rah-rah with everything, whereas pro ball is very laid back and it kinda creates a sense of feeling where there isn't a ton of pressure if you make a mistake.
"In college, (if) you lose a conference game on the weekend, it's the whole season. ... And as a pitcher he will have bad outings and (have to learn) not to put so much pressure on himself after a bad outing. It's a long season and he'll get better as he moves on. It's also a grind playing every day."
The Philadelphia Phillies picked Charlie Law in the 44th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. But he already had decided that he was going to play baseball at Rutgers University.
Law had an up-and-down five-year career with the Scarlet Knights, due to some injuries.
But he had an impressive senior season this year, leading the team in wins (6) and innings pitched (91). He finished with the third-most strikeouts in a single season in Rutgers history with 82.
He also contributed offensively, hitting .312 and leading the team in RBIs (47) and hitting with runners in scoring position (.417).
He was eligible again for the MLB draft in June, but all 30 teams passed him up, which was a huge disappointment to him, his family and friends.
"We were disappointed he didn't get picked in the draft," said Yogi Hiltner, Law's coach with Margate of the Atlantic County Baseball League. "It certainly benefited us in the league (when Charlie played), but no one was really happy about (the draft). There are 30 (major league) teams that have many people smarter than I am, but they have their reasons. And now he has a second chance in the Can-Am League to prove those 30 teams were wrong."
Law's age and injury history likely were the biggest factors. In 2011, he had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. He also had surgery on his left knee while in college.
"Any player who goes under the knife gets looked at more thoroughly and they have a less of a chance to get drafted, especially one who is older," Law said. "It's crazy to think, but I was technically one of the older kids in the draft. ... I was an older kid in the draft and I had a couple of surgeries under my belt."
Law made his first start with Rockland on July 27 against the Newark Bears. He was impressive, allowing one run on six hits and one walk in six innings to get the win. He then pitched 5 shutout innings against the Trois-Rivieres Aigles in a win on Aug. 3.
He struggled with his control in his third start Thursday, giving up five runs (four earned), eight walks and three home runs in a 9-6 loss to Wichita.
With that loss he is 2-1 in three starts with four strikeouts and 13 walks. He has given up five earned runs in 15 innings for an ERA of 2.93.
The Can-Am is an independent league, unaffiliated with Major League Baseball, comprised of five teams from Newark to Quebec. Each team also plays a 20-game schedule against teams from the American Association.
Law said he was a bit nervous for his first start, especially since the Boulders held a promotion that night that drew more than 5,000 fans.
"I've pitched in front of crowds before, but there was (the) added pressure of my first start," Law said. "But once I got through the first inning unscathed, I kind of settled in and the nerves were gone."
Contact John Russo: