FORT MILL — If there ever was a day that will stick out in Kevin “KJ” Woods’ memory it was Friday.
Woods, 17, had two life-changing events take place just hours apart. Shortly after 2 p.m., he was drafted in the fourth round (pick 112) of the 2013 Major League Baseball first-year player draft by the Miami Marlins and then later that evening at 7 p.m. he graduated from Fort Mill High School.
“This is an incredible experience,” Woods said. “I will never forget this day.”
With the selection, Woods becomes the highest drafted player out of Fort Mill ever. He also joins a small group of less than a dozen Fort Mill High graduates to ever go on and play minor-league baseball.
Woods is the first Fort Mill-based player picked since pitcher Hamilton Bennett was selected out of college in 2010 and the first since 2003 to be selected straight from Fort Mill High.
In his three years playing varsity baseball for Fort Mill, Woods hit .359 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs in 81 games and had an on-base percentage of .548.
Fort Mill baseball coach Brad Mercer said he was excited for Woods.
“All of his hard work has paid off,” he said. “He has worked hard to get where he is at. It’s exciting to be drafted that high. He has done a lot for himself this year with making the All-State team. A lot fell into place for him. It’s good for Fort Mill to get the recognition as well.”
Mercer said he had as many as 15 scouts from different teams calling him throughout the season wanting to see Woods play.
Woods, who committed to Santa Fe Community College in Florida earlier this year to play junior college baseball in hopes of raising his draft status in the future if he wasn’t picked, said he was certainly going to forgo college and link up with the Marlins’ farm system.
According to BaseballAmerica.com, the assessed value of Woods being drafted where he was by the Marlins is $459,200.
Executives from the team will be flying up to Fort Mill next week to meet with Woods and to finalize the details of Woods becoming part of the organization, including when he will report to its minor-league system, Woods said.
He will most likely report to the team’s Rookie League squad in the Gulf Coast League.
The 2013 draft was in its second day Friday and Woods said he was disappointed he didn’t go in the first two rounds held Thursday night.
“I talked to my agent and I listened to my family and they said everything was going to be all right,” he said.
Woods didn’t have to wait long because about an hour into Day Two of the draft, he got a phone call from the Marlins, saying they were going to take him with their next pick.
“I was relieved,” he said. “It was unreal. I have never waited so long for a phone call in my life.”
With family in town already for graduation, Woods said it was extra special to have a house full of support as he was sitting around watching the draft take place on TV.
“This place was packed,” he said. “I was eating a turkey sandwich when I got the call.”
Despite the relief of having the Marlins call, Woods said he was a little shocked, as he spent part of last week in San Diego talking with the Padres organization.
“We were dead set with San Diego getting me,” he said.
Besides Miami and San Diego, Woods was also on the radar for the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves as well.