Stoneham slugger feeling the draft
But Wiswall will return to BC if offer is too low
Mickey Wiswall tried to answer the Major League Baseball scouts honestly.
First, “They’d ask if I wanted to play baseball after college,’’ said Wiswall. “My answer was always ‘yes.’ Then they’d ask, ‘What would you sign for?’ ’’
A slugging corner infielder at Boston College, Wiswall hadn’t figured the money part out. He had to discuss it with his father, Jim.
Fresh off a power-packed junior season in which he belted 19 home runs and knocked in 61 runs for the Eagles, the 21-year-old Stoneham native is a little wiser about the process now. He’s told the scouts that he’d like to start a pro career as soon as possible. But it’s all about the you-know-what.
“We have a rock-bottom figure that, if he gets it, he’ll go and play pro,’’ said Jim Wiswall.
“Or he goes back to school.’’
Wiswall starred at Belmont Hill and was pursued by a number of colleges. He narrowed it down to Boston College and Duke. “It was a tough decision, but BC was just 25 minutes from my home. It was a good fit for me.’’
It was also an adjustment. “Biggest transition in my life,’’ he said. He had been that big fish in a little pond, and now he was playing with teammates who were getting picked in the first five or 10 rounds of MLB’s amateur draft.
If his son is selected in the first five rounds, it would be “a dream come true,’’ said his father. The draft starts tomorrow.
“We liked him when we saw him in his junior year at Belmont Hill,’’ said BC coach Mik Aoki. “We got a verbal commitment from him the third week in July, after the Bay State Games, where he played very well. He’s added a lot of muscle since then. He’s a lot stronger.’’
The 6-foot, 212-pound Wiswall said Aoki told him “he wanted the best players in New England to stay here.’’ He chose BC for the same reasons he went to Belmont Hill. “They were both the best combination of academics and athletics,’’ he added.
Starting when he was 13, Wiswall had success playing AAU ball against top-flight competition around the country. New Orleans. Virginia Beach, Va. Sarasota, Fla. “I found out how serious the game could get,’’ he said. “That’s when I knew baseball could get me a scholarship.’’
He played two summers for the Wakefield Merchants in the Inter-City League. “It’s an advanced men’s league, and Mickey was just 16 and 17,’’ said Jim Wiswall. “He made the all-star team both years and was the MVP of the all-star game.’’
Scouts began taking a longer look at Wiswall last summer after he hit over .300 for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the wood bat Cape Cod League. Colleges use aluminum bats.
“That’s what the scouts look for,’’ said Wiswall.
He’s had contact with all 30 big league teams, “a lot of them face-to-face.’’ The Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox had interest in signing Wiswall after his senior year at Belmont Hill, according to his dad. “But college was his only option,’’ he said.
A .310 career hitter at the Heights with 37 home runs and 152 RBIs, Wiswall powers the ball to all fields. In a recent game against visiting Georgia Tech in Chestnut Hill, with a number of scouts watching, the lefthanded-hitting Wiswall drove a pitch over the wall in left.
A first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick and second-team All-New England (University of Connecticut first baseman Mike Nemeth was the first-team pick), he slugged a team-best .697 this season with a .398 on-base percentage.
Jim Wiswall said, “The scouts have been very good about letting Mickey play his game. They’re not hounding him or the family. Occasionally, they have a question.’’
Wiswall played an errorless third base for this season’s first 18 games. But to strengthen the defense, Aoki put him at first. “I said, anything to help the team. I’m not a difficult guy to coach.’’
“He played well at third,’’ said Aoki, “but he’s as good of a defensive first baseman as there is in this conference.’’
When Wiswall was at Belmont Hill, former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman was an assistant coach. “He had a good arm, speed and power,’’ said Gedman. His son, Matt, was a teammate at Belmont.
“He’s a line drive guy. We got him to relax in the field and he improved his defense. He’s a good kid.’’
Belmont Hill head coach Ed Gallagher told Aoki, “We’ve got a kid who’s pretty good.’’ Aoki went to watch a Belmont Hill game and came away convinced that he had to talk to the prospect.
Wiswall played baseball, football, and hockey growing up. “I was always active. I considered myself an athlete. I loved all three sports. I got serious about hockey,’’ he said.
“Some people thought he’d be a better hockey player,’’ according to Jim Wiswall. “But baseball’s always been his passion.’’ To the father, having scouts following his son “has been kind of surreal. I’m trying to savor every moment. It’s every dad’s dream.’’
If Wiswall doesn’t sign, he’ll play in the Cape Cod League again. At 3 p.m. today, he’ll be on the field at Fenway Park, where his Division 1 squad will take on a team of Division 2 and 3 players as part of the annual New England Collegiate All-Star game. In last year’s game, held at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, he homered.
Asked if he’ll be able to sleep tonight on the eve of the draft, he said, “I hope so. This is a great opportunity. I’m not nervous. Of course I’m anxious. I just want to be treated fairly financially.’’
“He’s handled this quite well,’’ said Aoki.
And when it’s over, “hopefully it’s a celebration,’’ Wiswall said.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.