Wood brings the lumber
The Ontario Blue Jays had an off day at the 2010 Connie Mack World Series.
And they needed one after losing the opener to the Midland Redskins 9-2 in Farmington, N.M.
“We had a home run derby, hitters against pitchers,” said Danny Bleiwas, coach of the Blue Jays. “This pitcher is putting on a show. Altitude or not, this kid was hitting the ball almost 500 feet, I told him he was my No. 4 hitter.”
The kid, Pickering’s Eric Wood, told Bleiwas he didn’t want to hit any more when he joined the Jays, he was a pitcher.
Wood joined an illustrious group of Canadians pros selected over the years when he was chosen the top Canadian in the draft on Day 2 of the three-day draft of high schooler and collegians.
Pittsburgh Pirates scout Trevor Haley chose Wood in the sixth round.
Drafted a year ago by the Oakland A’s, Wood went to Blinn College in Texas.
“I was planning on going back,” said Wood from a car on the way to Guelph, where his Barrie Baycats were playing Tuesday night.
“I didn’t follow the draft on the website, my scout phoned and I agreed to sign for $100,000 (US),” said Wood, who played for Don Linthwaite’s Pickering Red Sox and Marc Picard’s Team Ontario before joining Bleiwas’ Jays.
“(Bleiwas) was like a father to me,” Wood said. “He kept me going in the right direction,”
A year ago June, A’s scout Matt Higginson selected Wood in the 37th round (“Matt was the first guy to see Eric’s potential, other than myself,” Bleiwas said) to cap a winter of making the drive to the Jays Mississauga clubhouse with Whitby infielder Joey Hawkins.
Drafted in the 42nd round by the Kansas City Royals, Hawkins chose to attend Missouri State University last fall.
Before Hawkins left, Wood went to him and thanked him.
“Eric thanked Joey for turning around his life,” Bleiwas said. “Eric’s a dynamic kid and I’m happy for him, but I didn’t see it coming. I’m pleasantly surprised. I thought he was a year away.”
From home run derby showman to five homers in 30 games on the Jays college fall schedule and off to Blinn.
“He deserves everything good coming his way,” Bleiwas said, “of all the guys we’ve had drafted I’m as excited for him as anyone. He’s a little like Marcus Knecht, as a hitter, he’s a prototype third baseman.”
Wood, who had pre-draft workouts for the Houston Astros and the Royals, knocked in 39 runs for Blinn.
“I was sitting in Oshawa with my mom when my scout called,” Wood said. “My mom was excited, but not as excited as me. My mom’s French. We don’t cry.”
Suzanne Cantin answered the phone since Wood couldn’t use his American-based cellphone, saying: “Baseball has been his passion since he was little. He was kind of in between. Go back to school or do you turn pro? Now he has the answer.”
On all those names like Brett Lawrie, Phillippe Aumont, Adam Loewen, Adam Stern, Scott Thorman, Justin Morneau, Kevin Nicholson, Chris Reitsma, Ryan Dempster and Jackson Dickson you can add Wood.
So how bad was the draft? The number of Canadians drafted was supposed to take a hit with the draft being cut from 50 to 40 rounds. Four Canadians were selected in the first 10 rounds — the same as a year ago — and nine in all on Day 2.
Whitby lefty Ryan Kellogg, who Baseball America, Perfect Game and most observers considered would go between the fourth and sixth rounds, however, six Canadians were chosen before Kellogg went in the 12th round to the Blue Jays.
The Jays will now try to talk him out of his scholarship to Arizona State University.
Wood’s selection in the sixth round was the lowest a top Canadian had gone since 1994 when right-hander Dickson of Chatham, N.B., went to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Jays took two difficult signs before finishing the first 10 rounds by signing a slew of senior players. With their first pick of the day they drafted Long Beach right-hander Chase DeJong, who has committed to USC and then outfielder Anthony Alford, a two-sport star from Petal, Miss. A quarterback, Alford is headed to Southern Mississippi after being named Mississippi high school football player of the year.
Scouting director Andrew Tinnish’s final seven picks were all college seniors, including centre fielder Alex Azor of the United States Naval Academy. The rationale being under the new Basic Agreement that slot money can be saved on later picks and used elsewhere on another pick.
Day 3 of the draft begins Wednesday at noon via conference call with Whitby outfielder Julian Service and Brampton outfielder Derek Jones of the Ontario Blue Jays the top-rated players not drafted.
6th Pirates — 3B Eric Wood, Pickering, Ont., Blinn College, hit .318, 13 doubles, four HR, 39 RBI.
7th Brewers — LHP David Otterman, Coquitlam, B.C. University of British Columbia, 5-3, 2.84 ERA in 11 GS, 33 BB, 59 K in 64.1 IP.
9th Cardinals — C Rowan Wick, North Vancouver, BC, Cypress College, hit .250, 3 HR, 10 RBI in 13 starts.
9th Diamondbacks — RHP Jeff Gibbs, East York, Ont. University of Maine, 3-4, 8.30 ERA, 42 BB, 56 K in 66 IP.
11th Padres — INF Maxx Tissenbaum, Toronto, Stony Brook University, All-Conference, All-regional honours, hit .390, 3 HR, 48 RBI.
12th A’s — 3B Johnny Caputo, Toronto, Ont., Toronto Mets. Drafted by Matt Higginson.
12th Jays — LHP Ryan Kellogg, Whitby, Ont., Ontario Prospects. Drafted by Jamie Lehman, has scholarship to Arizona State.
14th Giants — OF Tyler Hollick, Calgary, Alta., Chandler-Gilbert College. 58 runs scored in 48 games, hit .475, .604 OBA .
15th Yankees — RHP Dayton Dawe, London, Ont. Ontario Terriers. 90-93 MPH vs. MLB Prospects, 2 IP, 5 K.
2. RHP Chase DeJong, Long Beach, Calif. HS. Fastball 87-91 MPH, can reach 92-93, plus curve, 6-foot-5, Committed to USC.
3. OF Anthony Alford, Petal Miss, HS. Headed to Southern Mississippi as QB/OF. State FB player of year (2,000 yards throwing, 1,700 running) 44 TD. Hit .483, four HR. Fast runner.
4. RHP Tucker Donahue, Stetson University. A senior sign, drafted in 38th last year by Rangers.
5. LHP Brad Delatte, Nicholls State Perfect Game’s 57th best college prospect in Louisiana.
6. 3B Eric Phillips, 2B, Georgia Southern. 6-foot-2, 205 lbs., hit .390 and .391 last two seasons, adding 29 stolen bases as a senior.
7. OF Ian Parmley, Liberty University. Senior sign, ranked 12th best college player in Virginia
8. C Harrison Frawley, Coastal Carolina. Catch-and-throw guy who had 203 at-bats.
9. 1B Jordan Leyland, Azusa Pacific. Senior, ranked 36th best prospect in California
10. CF Alex Azor, United States Naval Academy. Senior, hit .321, one HR, 21 RBI.
11. OF Grant Heyman, Pittsford, N.Y., HS.
12. LHP Ryan Kellogg, Whitby, Ont.
13, C John Silviano, West Palm Beach, Fla. 3rd ranked high schooler.
14. LHP Zakery Wasilewski, Tazewell, VA HS. Sixth ranked, Committed to South Carolina
15. LHP Ryan Borucki, Mundelein, Ill.Seventh ranked in state, Iowa bound?