While in his final season of college baseball, Mountlake Terrace High School 2010 graduate Andrew Woeck was already looking ahead to his next goal – to play Major League Baseball. Some scouts believed he would be selected somewhere in the first ten rounds of the 2014 MLB draft, but then an injury to Woeck sent his stock plummeting in the minds of many – many that is, except for Woeck himself.
“All I’ve ever looked for was an opportunity,” Woeck said. “Once I have that, I will make it happen.”
Woeck was selected in the 31st round of the draft by the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month, and although the right-handed pitcher won’t play any more baseball in 2014, he is already looking forward to that opportunity to show his new organization just what he can do next spring.
Woeck had Tommy John surgery earlier this spring, ending his senior year of baseball for the North Carolina State University Wolfpack. The surgery required the reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and will sideline him for the remainder of this calendar year. But the Rays took a chance on Woeck, drafted him and offered him a contract.
“I signed my contract (June 12) and am now currently at the Rays rehab center in Port Charlotte, Florida, at their spring training complex,” Woeck said. “I’m working with the training staff here, which is one of the best there is, and working on getting healthy and back in the game for next season.”
While many new Major League draftees get some vital first-year experience in rookie or minor league baseball right away, that will have to wait for Woeck as he recovers from his surgery. He plans on spending the next eight months working with training staff in Florida and recovering at home in Brier before Rays’ spring training opens in February 2015.
The abrupt end of his final year of college ball and subsequent surgery hasn’t dampened Woeck’s desire to reach the Major Leagues. “My dream has been to play professional baseball since I started playing sports as a kid,” he explained. “I will be healthy by next season and intend on making it to the big leagues within three years.”
Following the 2015 spring training in Port Charlotte, and if healthy enough to compete, Woeck’s professional career will likely begin at one of the Rays’ Single A- affiliated minor league teams in Florida, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.
Pitching far from home hasn’t bother Woeck; the right-hander finished his college career in Raleigh, NC, after two years playing for Western Nevada College in Carson City. Over two seasons at North Carolina State, Woeck compiled a win-loss record of 9-2, an ERA of less than 3.00, and had 86 strikeouts and 19 base-on-balls. At Western Nevada, Woeck went 15-5 and struck out 159 batters.
While Woeck’s next baseball will likely be played on the East Coast, he credits his young playing days at home in South Snohomish County for the success he has achieved so far in this life. “My parents pushed me as hard as they could when I was growing up – nothing but success was accepted,” he said. “That has given me the work ethic and desire to make my dreams a reality and I thank them every day for that.”
— By Doug Petrowski