Photo by Darius Horton/ MTSU Sidelines
The ultimate goal for the millions of kids around the world that play baseball is to one day hear their name called in the MLB Draft and put themselves in position to fulfill their dreams of playing Major League Baseball. On Wednesday, three MTSU Blue Raiders got the call that they have been waiting for their entire lives.
Junior shortstop LA Woodard, junior outfielder Austin Dennis and senior left-handed pitcher Jake Wyrick were all selected in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.
Woodard was the first Blue Raider to hear his name called as he was selected by the New York Mets in the 16th round of the draft at 470th overall. Woodard had a stellar season in his first year at MTSU after spending the first two years of his career at Kansas City Community College.
In his first year in Murfreesboro, Woodard established himself as a reliable hitter and a speed demon, tallying 23 stolen bases on the season and terrorizing opponents on the base paths. The Nashville native was no stranger to flashing the leather in the Blue Raider infield, collecting 82 putouts on the season and posting a fielding percentage of .951.
For Woodard, getting drafted was a surreal experience that he waited his whole life for.
“Every year I watched the draft and dreamed of having my name read, and when I got the call, I was so excited,” Woodard said.
Four rounds after Woodard was selected, the defending World Series champion, Houston Astros, took Dennis with the 612th pick.
The Astros organization will get a solid hitter and an overall versatile player in Dennis. This past season, Dennis hit at an exceptional .345 average with .485 slugging percentage and a .417 on-base percentage, all career-highs.
Dennis’ greatest value might not just come from his bat, but his versatility in the field. During his time at MTSU, Dennis has played games in centerfield, second base and even on the mound as a pitcher in relief duty.
In his junior season, Dennis posted an overall fielding percentage of .972. On the mound, Dennis tallied three saves in 13 relief appearances, striking out 22 batters and posting an ERA of 4.03.
Dennis had a hunch that the Astros would take him after they contacted him earlier in the draft.
“They gave me a call a few rounds earlier,” Dennis said. “So, I kept following their picks, and they ended up taking me,” Dennis said.
The final Blue Raider selected was left-handed pitcher Wyrik. Wyrick was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 30th round and was the 889th player selected.
As one of the more reliable starting pitchers for the Blue Raiders, Wyrick led the Blue Raider pitching staff in strikeouts (82), wins (5) and his ERA of 3.56 was the best-recorded ERA on the team.
In his third year in a Blue Raider uniform, opposing hitters were only able to muster a batting average of .216 against Wyrick.
For the third year pitcher from Cleveland, TN, finally hearing his name called that late in the draft was a positive relief.
“I was excited and relieved to see my name called,” Wyrick said.
Follow Sidelines Assistant Sports Editor Elijah Campbell on Twitter at @E_Campbell3.
To contact Sports Editor David Chamberlain, email email@example.com.