Posted: 7:01 pm Friday, June 7th, 2013
By Matt Porter
It was a storybook spring for J.D. Underwood, who was named the best junior college pitcher in Florida, lifted Palm Beach State to a state title and carried them further to the national junior college final.
The grand finale came Friday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers picked him in the fifth round (154th overall) of the MLB Draft.
“Not in a million years, you can’t dream of a better situation,” said Underwood, a Palm Beach Gardens High graduate. “The way everything played out this year, it’s unbelievable. Going to nationals and less than a week after that …”
Underwood, son of former major league pitcher Tom Underwood, brought Palm Beach State to its first state title since 1984 and the first junior college world series apperance in program history.
Underwood and his advisor, Brandon O’Hearn of ACES Inc., planned to meet with the Dodgers next week to sign a deal. According to Baseball America, the slot value (suggested signing bonus) for the 154th overall pick is $306,200. If he did not sign with Los Angeles, Underwood would join the University of Miami and become eligible to be drafted again next year, following his junior season.
The Dodgers will get a workhorse, 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander with a big-league-quality curveball and a low-90s fastball. Underwood threw a complete game on three days rest to lift the Panthers to the state title, then went the distance again in a national semifinal. He finished with eight complete games in his final nine starts.
During the regular season, he went 8-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 92.1 innings. He walked just 12 batters. A left-handed bat, he also hit .367 with three homers and a team-high 47 RBI.
All of this would have made his father immensely proud. Tom Underwood, who pitched for the New York Yankees and five other teams in 11 big-league seasons, passed away in 2010 after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
“He would be crying and grabbing him,” said his mother, Christine, through tears. “He would have said, ‘That a way, son. That a way to do it on your own’.”
“It’s too much right now, right? I’m just so proud of him.”
Surrounded by family, friends and teammates, Underwood fielded a call on Friday from a Los Angeles representative. He was told to sit tight — they would select him when their turn came 10 picks later.
It was the happiest wait of his life.
“I’m just speechless, man,” he said. “It’s awesome. Unbelievable.”
Day 2 roundup: Former Port St. Lucie catcher Stephen McGee, a junior at Florida State, was selected in the 9th round (277th overall) by the Los Angeles Angels. Slot value for that pick is $142,500, per Baseball America.