Brandon Woodruff has a tough choice to make: Stick with a rising Mississippi State program, or go ahead and get his professional career started.
The Wheeler High School product was drafted by the Texas Rangers today in the fifth round (174th overall). A right-handed pitcher and outfielder, Woodruff (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) has already signed with MSU. He doesn't know right now which direction he'll go, but he's going to essentially let the Rangers decide for him.
"It's going to have to be the right money, what I'm looking for," Woodruff said. "If everything comes out right, I'll go. If it's not what I want, I'll go to Mississippi State."
Woodruff was drafted as a pitcher, but the Rangers will give him a chance to play the outfield and hit. This past season, he batted .618 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. On the mound, he was 1-1 with a 1.62 ERA. Woodruff was named first-team all-state by the coaches.
"He's probably the most natural gifted player I've ever been around, especially at the high school level," Wheeler coach John David Horn said.
Woodruff likes what he sees happening at MSU, which travels to Florida this week to play in an NCAA super regional. And he likes the approach of coach John Cohen.
"He loves to win, and that's one thing I love to do. All he wants to do is win," Woodruff said. "I want to step into a program that doesn't expect anything less than winning. That's what he's all about."
• Also drafted today – so far – are junior right-handed pitcher Devin Jones, third baseman Jarrod Parks and infielder Nick Vickerson. Jones was taken by Baltimore in the ninth round, 275th overall; Vickerson was drafted by Texas in the 20th round, 624th overall; Parks was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 24th round, 735th overall.
I spoke with Jones this afternoon, and the Eupora native is not sure whether he'll go pro or return for his senior year.
"Of course I'm excited to be drafted; then again, we've just got to focus on the task at hand, and right now that's Florida," Jones said. "I really don't know what will happen, but hopefully everything will work out."
It's been a tough year for Jones, who's 2-5 with a 4.45 ERA and lost his spot in the starting rotation earlier this season. But he's got potential.
"I'm 6-2, 6-3 with a 175-pound frame right now," he said. "That could definitely be increased, and no telling what the possibilities would be if I was 200, in that area. Also, they said I'm a competitor, and they've seen I fought through tough outings and had good outings after a rough outing."
Vickerson, who's played second base most of this season, is listed as a shortstop. He's hitting .314 with 31 RBIs and has been on a tear of late: 7 of 18 with nine RBIs his last six games. Parks leads the Bulldogs with a .365 average.
Also taken today was MSU signee Jacob Lindgren, a pitcher from St. Stanislaus. He went to the Chicago Cubs in the 12th round, No. 371 overall.