Ballplayers’ futures take shape on draft day

Times Colonist

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It’s a big week for touted Grade 12 Island pitchers Kurtis Horne of Sooke, Colton Wood of Victoria and Cody Chartrand of Nanaimo as the 2014 major-league draft commences today and runs through Saturday.

“It’s an exciting time but it’s also a nerve-racking time,” said Wood.

Wood has just returned from the Canadian junior national team tour of the Dominican Republic, where he pitched nine innings for Canada with 10 strikeouts and allowed only four hits.

“My compete level is higher than that of most players,” said Wood, who pitched a complete seven-inning win for the Victoria Mariners in their B.C. Premier League derby against the Victoria Eagles on Wednesday night at Royal Athletic Park.

Mariners head coach Mike Chewpoy agreed: “Colton is a fierce competitor who wants to win. He’s throwing 88 to 92 miles per hour and can throw three pitches for strikes.”

Wood, a Grade 12 Lambrick Park student, will play for Cochise Junior College in Douglas, Ariz. next season. But that could change if he is drafted and that MLB team wants him in their farm system in the minor pros.

“That would be a big decision [college or minor-pro ball] . . . a life decision,” noted Wood.

“Let’s just say, that will be a game-time decision, if it happens.”

The six-foot-five left-hander Horne also played in the recent Canadian junior team tour of the Dominican Republic. Both Wood and Horne were on the gold-medallist B.C. team at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que, with Wood earning the win with 10 strikeouts in the 5-0 victory over Ontario in the gold-medal game.

“My dream is to play pro ball,” said Horne, a Grade 12 Edward Milne student, who will take his commanding fastball to New Mexico Junior College in the fall.

“It all comes down to how high you go [in the draft]. You just have to let it happen and hope for the best.”

The top-rated Canadian for the 2014 draft is six-foot-four, 220-pound Canadian junior team outfielder Gareth Morgan from North York, Ont., who is expected to be selected in the first or second round.

“He’s got the perfect build and power for the pro game,” said Wood, of his national junior teammate Morgan.

Bob Elliott from the Canadian Baseball Network rates third-baseman Mitchell Robinson from Cloverdale as the top British Columbia prospect for the 2014 MLB draft and third overall Canadian. Elliott has Nanaimo’s Chartrand, from Lewis and Clark State College, as the second-ranked British Columbian and sixth-rated Canadian. Also eligible for the draft are players who have completed their junior season in the U.S. collegiate NCAA, even if they were previously drafted out of Grade 12 (but not signed). That includes the West Coast League Victoria HarbourCats’ catcher Kelly Norris-Jones, a Victoria Mariners and Lambrick Park Secondary graduate who just completed his junior season with the University of Illinois Fighting Illini of the Big Ten. Norris-Jones was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 draft but not signed, so he goes back into the mix this week for the 2014 draft.

Last year provided a draft splash locally with six-foot-five pitcher Nick Pivetta, a Lambrick Park and Victoria Eagles graduate who started the first game in HarbourCats WCL history last season. He was selected in the fourth round by the Washington Nationals and is 8-2 this season with a 3.75 ERA with the Nationals’ Single-A farm team in Hagerstown, Maryland.

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