It didn't always look like J.B. Woodman would live up to the high billing that accompanied him to Oxford as an elite recruit in 2013. The tools were always obvious -- a smooth, powerful swing, a cannon of a right arm, the speed and fluidity in the outfield -- but they came in flashes, spaced just far enough apart to simultaneously engender optimism and frustration.
It finally all came together for Woodman as a junior, and he's a second-round pick in the MLB Draft because of it. Woodman, who was named a second-team All-American earlier this week, was snached up on Thursday night by the Toronto Blue Jays with the No. 57 overall pick, making him the first Rebel off the board (shortstop Errol Robinson is expected to follow him sometime on Saturday).
He hasn't signed anything as far as we know, but he'll almost certainly take this opportunity and skip his senior year in Oxford. His slot value is about $1.1 million. Get paid, dude.
Thank you to the @BlueJays for making my dream come true! Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way!— JB Woodman (@jb_woodman) June 10, 2016
Here's a look at Woodman's career statistical arc:
SB Nation's Blue Jay site, Bluebirds Banter, wasn't thrilled with the selection at first, initially saying it "feels like a reach." They softened their tone after some time to think, but remain understandably wary of a guy who consistently produced for just one season and struggled mightily in the wood bat Cape Cod League last summer:
So the fundamental question is: what's the more accurate reflection of J.B. Woodman's hitting ability? The 2015 Cape Cod League performance, or the 2016 SEC performance. The former is a better pure barometer, but the latter is more recent and possibly reflects genuine improvement. Sometimes baseball players just figure it out.
For anyone that watched J.B. torch SEC pitching during his junior season, that seems like an easily answered question: the dude is legit. Not only did he pace the conference with 14 dingers and place in the top five for slugging percentage, he led the team in steals and was an absolute stud in the outfield.
This dude can do it all.