By: Patrick Allen
Canadian Baseball Network
The first draft of the Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins era saw the Toronto Blue Jays shift from their traditional pitcher-first approach in favour of amassing elite offensive prospects.
Perhaps no one fits that bill more than outfielder J.B. Woodman.
Selected by the Blue Jays with the 57th selection of the 2016 draft, the 22-year-old Woodman is a 6-foot-2 centre fielder, fresh off of a three-year stint playing for the University of Mississippi.
He was previously drafted by the New York Mets in 2013, but decided to forgo the opportunity of professional baseball and a six-figure signing to pursue a collegiate career.
“After high school I wasn’t ready to go and play professional baseball every day,” said Woodman. “I kind of needed to grow up and mature. [Looking back] I am really happy I did that.”
In his three seasons at Ole Miss, Woodman hit 23 home runs and posted a .299 batting average. His most impressive season came in his draft year, where he led the Southeastern Conference with 14 homers and showcased his defensive abilities with nine outfield assists.
When he received the news this spring that he had been called up to play with the big club, Woodman admitted to having to battle through a multitude of emotions.
“I was definitely nervous. [I] hadn’t seen a lot of pitching before that, so I was thrown into the fire a little bit,” said the five-tool player. “But it was really cool just to be up there with the guys, I mean they’re all-stars and big leaguers but they’re also really nice and talk to you and if you have any question (they will answer them). It was a really good experience.”
Though the elite collection of on-field talent may be the most attractive feature of the club to an outsider, it is only one of the reasons why Woodman is excited to be a part of the Blue Jays organization.
“They really take pride in giving you everything that you need to have success, whether it’s mental stuff or nutrition,” said Woodman. “They always prepare you to be the best you can be.”