Sixth Round Pick Stephen Woods Jr. Chooses UAlbany
ALBANY, N.Y. – In December of 2012, Stephen Woods Jr., a 6-foot-2, 205 pound hard-throwing righty, signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball for head coach Jon Mueller and the University at Albany Great Danes. However, the plans looked as though they could change significantly on June 7th, when the Long Island native was selected as the Tampa Bay Rays’ sixth-round pick (No. 188 overall) in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"It's been my dream to play professionally," Woods told the Long Island Newsday back in June. "I told my coach that if the draft passed the sixth round, I would go to Albany."
Teetering on that cutoff line, Woods and his family weighed the options before deciding. After over a month of negotiations, the July 12th deadline came and went, and the 18-year-old has chosen not to sign a professional contract. Instead, Woods will step foot on UAlbany’s campus this fall for his freshman year and will don a purple and gold Great Dane uniform.
Swayed by the opportunity to earn a college degree at a top-notch State university, Woods will have another crack at pursuing his professional dream in the 2016 draft after three years of college play under his belt.
“We are very excited that Stephen has decided to join his classmates at UAlbany,” said Coach Mueller. “Stephen will have an immediate impact in the America East Conference.”
Woods attended Half Hollows Hills East High School and became the first player ever drafted out of the school. While a prospect all spring long, Woods drew even more attention from scouts after painting back-to-back no hitters in April that led to a campaign of striking out 90 and yielding only 12 hits in 44 innings.
Woods is known for his loose arm mechanics, producing low-90’s velocity, as well as a complementary curveball, changeup, and a mid-80’s cutter that frustrated his high school adversaries.
"We think this kid is a good high school starting pitching prospect," said Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison. "The fastball, now at average and up to 93 mph on the top end, and an above-average curveball. The arm action and delivery says starting pitcher."
The Rays had 33 of their 41 draftees sign in 2013, with Woods being their highest pick not to ink a deal. Woods also marks UAlbany’s highest draft pick in program history.
UALBANY BASEBALL IN THE MLB DRAFT
1974 - Terry Kenny, San Francisco, 9th round
2001 - Steve Checksfield, Houston, 26th round - No. 776 overall
2002 - Mike Grasso, Atlanta, 11th round- No. 335 overall
2004 - Adam Kroft, San Diego, 30th round- No. 882 overall
2007 - Tom Hill, Kansas City, 34th round- No. 1,023 overall
2008 - Mike Konstanty, Cincinnati, 39th round- No. 1,169 overall
2011 - Dave Kubiak, Tampa Bay, 36th round- No. 1,110 overall
2012 - Sean Lucas, Cincinnati, 25th round- No. 772 overall
2013 - Stephen Woods, Tampa Bay, 6th round - No. 188 overall (HS – did not sign)