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Woods will sign pro contract with Marlins

Nate Woods had just gotten a burrito at Panchero's on Edgewood Road NW when his cell phone rang Wednesday night.

It was a phone call he'll remember for a long time, because it marked the start of his pro baseball career.

Woods will fly to Florida on Thursday and sign a free-agent contract with the Florida Marlins, fulfilling a dream to become a professional baseball player.

Woods, 22, hit 33 homers and drove in 140 runs at Belmont University the last two seasons, but he wasn't drafted either year and wondered if he'd ever get a chance to play pro ball.

He watched his brother, Corbin, play for Xavier High School Wednesday night and stopped at Panchero's on the way home for a late-night snack when the phone rang.

"I'm excited," he said. "I've got nothing to lose and I can go play baseball."

 

Woods was drafted in the 28th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007 when he was a senior at Xavier, but he was disappointed when his name wasn't called in the 2010 and 2011 drafts when he was a junior and senior at Belmont.

 

Woods thinks he'll be assigned to play in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, which starts Monday in Florida. The Marlins have their team and training camp in Jupiter, Fla.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity for four years, ever since I was drafted in high school," he said.

Woods was a first baseman and pitcher at Belmont, and he's been told he could be a first baseman or corner outfielder for the Marlins.

Carmen Cartone, a scout for the Marlins, called Woods Wednesday night to offer the contract. Cartone scouted Woods at Belmont and they had several conversations earlier this week.

"The guy kind of likes me," Woods said. "He's been good to me. He finally came through."

Woods has graduated from Belmont University and has no leverage with the Marlins. He doesn't know if he'll get a signing bonus, but said all he wants is a chance.

His grandfather, Ken Charipar, got a $650 bonus when he signed a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs in 1948. Charipar, who passed away in March, always kidded Woods about that $500 bonus. So if Woods gets a bonus, he knows what he wants.

"I hope it's something more than my grandpa got," he said, laughing.

Woods, 6-foot-6, 235, helped Belmont win the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament this year and reach the NCAA playoffs for the first time in school history. He hit .338 this season with 13 homers and 62 RBIs. He hit .319 with 20 homers and 78 RBIs in 2010.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 June 2011 19:45 )  

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