Wells recalls Draft experience in 1997
On the DL, veteran outfielder will represent Blue Jays this June
Vernon Wells can remember the day. He remembers it well. His family filled the afternoon playing board games at their home in Dallas, Texas. He knew the Blue Jays would be calling. But knowing the call was coming, and actually getting it, are two different things."That was the fun part -- actually getting the call," remembered Wells, the first-round pick of the Blue Jays in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, and the fifth selection overall. "I'd like to be the one who calls our first-round pick. I'd let the kid know what it's like to be up here in the Majors and the adjustments it requires." Wells may get that chance as the Blue Jays' rep for this year's Draft on June 5.
MLB.com will carry every pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage on BaseballChannel.TV begins at 1 p.m. with a special ceremonial draft of former Negro Leaguers who will be on hand at The Milk House. The First-Year Player Draft follows at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively on BaseballChannel.TV, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo and David Rawnsley of Perfect Game USA.Several of the top amateur prospects are expected to be in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League clubs will be represented by front-office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis. Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com. Wells had been hearing from a number of different teams prior to the '97 Draft. But the Blue Jays called and asked what it would take to select him fifth. At the time, Wells, a two-sport star at Arlington Bowie High School, had already signed a national letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Texas, with the intention of walking on to the Longhorns' football team. "I loved football, but I got hurt my last game my senior year and thought it was time I stopped getting hit," Wells said, laughing. "I had what you might call not-scared speed. But I had a passion for both sports. I think I made the right choice. I don't know if I would have had the career in football as I've had in baseball." There was some pressure in being a first-round pick. But Wells never allowed it to affect him. "I didn't think about the money, or the pressure. I just thought about getting to the Majors," Wells said. "It's what all first-round Draft picks should think about above everything else."
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.