SPORTS EDITOR BLOG — Former Lafayette High School baseball standout Justin Woodall said this morning he was excited about his future with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Woodall was picked by the Rays in the 26th round of Major League Baseball draft on Tuesday despite not pitching for four seasons while at Alabama.
It was the second time Woodall has been drafted by an organization. Coming out of LHS, he was was taken in the 19th round by the New York Mets. Woodall reportedly turned down a signing bonus of $1.6 million from the Mets to fulfill a dream to play football for the Crimson Tide. Woodall started two seasons at strong safety for Alabama and helped lead the team to a BCS national title this past season.
Woodall was not drafted by an NFL team this past spring, so his attention turned back to baseball. He said he worked out for scouts from the Atlanta Braves twice as well as other teams before the draft.
“I haven’t played baseball in a long time, since high school, so it will be fun to get out and play again,” Woodall said. “I kind of thought the Mets might take me again, but the Rays liked me.”
During the workouts, Woodall said he hit 91 miles-per-hour on a radar gun, impressive for any pitcher, let alone one that has not picked up a ball in four years.
“I thought it was pretty good since I hadn’t thrown for four years,” Woodall said. “I didn’t know what my velocity was, so I thought it was good.”
Woodall said a scout from the Rays was coming to visit him in Tuscaloosa this week and he said that it was looking like he would sign with the team and begin his journey through the minor leagues. He also said that the opportunity was more important than the money he would make to sign with the organization.
To prepare for the draft and his upcoming future with baseball, Woodall said he had been jogging and long tossing. He said his arm was a little sore, but nothing that was uncommon compared to the time he’s spent away from throwing. (June 9, 2010)