If you think Jim Wood of Windham is going to be intimidated by his more highly touted teammates with the Pulaski (Va.) Mariners of the Class A Appalachian League, then you don't know Jim Wood.
The former Trinity College and Bishop Guertin great, who was chosen in the 47th round (1,422nd pick overall) by the Seattle Mariners in last week's draft, has already proven he can excel against the big boys.
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is quickly gaining respect. Its alums include Washington Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, Twins closer Joe Nathan, Giants All-Star Brian Wilson of Londonderry, Silver Slugger winner Andre Ethier of the Dodgers and 22 other current major leaguers.
Last year's MVP?
Jim Wood, that's who.
"I can't go in thinking I don't belong,'' said Wood, who was expecting to sign his contract today. "You just have to have faith in yourself. ... I have the confidence.''
The NECBL experience bolstered that confidence.
"I'm a Division 3 guy and that doesn't mean I can't play,'' said Wood, one of four draftees from Trinity's 2008 national championship team. "It's the same exact game. It's a huge confidence builder playing vs. the UCLA and Cal State-Fullerton guys. It's fun to play the underdog. People don't expect it (from you).''
His college career was about as good as it gets. This year he was named second-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He batted .441 with 42 runs, 42 RBI and 13 homers in 30 games and was sixth nationally in homers per game and 10th in slugging percentage (.881).
A lefty with a sweet stroke and big-time power, Wood was always a big fan of the greatest Mariner of them all.
"I always thought Ken Griffey Jr. was awesome,'' said the 6-2, 200-pound right fielder, a former three-sport whiz who also had numerous college opportunities in football (receiver) and hockey (forward). "As a lefthanded hitter, I emulated his stance.''