Wood taking lively arm to NAIA school

Sunday, March 19, 2017
Dylan Wood (front, center) signed his national letter-of-intent last week to play college baseball at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. He is flanked by his parents, Chasity and David. Also present for the signing (back, from left) were Jackson Wood, pitching coach Paul Butcher, South Putnam coach Brady Rhodes, Indiana Mafia travel team coach Scott Jelley and South Putnam assistant athletic director/trainer Katie Patberg.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

To look at South Putnam senior Dylan Wood’s 5-8, 165-pound frame, the phrase “has nearly 90-mile-per-hour fastball” doesn’t automatically come to mind.

Yet, the hard-throwing and versatile Eagle packs a lot of punch and caught the attention of Campbellsville University – and the preseason top 20-ranked NAIA school located in central Kentucky signed Wood to a national letter-of-intent last week to play for the Tigers in 2018.

Last year for the Eagles, Wood had a 2-6 record in 10 pitching appearances with one save and a 2.39 ERA over 31 innings pitched. He struck out 49 batters and walked 24.

When not pitching, Wood can play a variety of positions – mostly shortstop and catcher – and last year led the Western Indiana Conference in steals with 23.

He batted .389 last year for South Putnam with 28 hits in 72 at-bats with nine doubles and three home runs and 12 RBI while only striking out seven times.

“I really enjoy pitching, because it gives me control of the game,” he said. “But I think I’m better at middle infield.”

On the mound, Wood can rely on a wide assortment of pitches that includes two kinds of fastballs, a slider, curveball, changeup and a knuckleball.

Wood said the Campbellsville coaches have told him, like all recruits, that he needs to work on a few things before stepping up to the college level.

“They said I need to worry most about throwing strikes when runners are on base as a pitcher,” he said. “In the field, they said I need to work on keeping everyone else’s heads up if they make a mistake and play the next play.”

Wood started playing baseball on his dad’s team in T-ball when he was about five years old, and thinks his career took off when he joined the Indiana Mafia traveling team when he was 13.

The Mafia team includes players from Monrovia, Cascade, Brownsburg, Indianapolis Ritter and Indianapolis Roncalli, and won a national tournament last summer in South Carolina.

South Putnam went 7-18 last year, but Wood sees a big improvement on the horizon.

“I think we have a good group, and can be county champion competitors,” he said. “Maybe even conference champion competitors.”

Eagle coach Brady Rhodes is glad to have Wood on hand for one more year, for his efforts both on and off the field.

“He’s an excellent baserunner,” Rhodes noted. “He’s going to be our ace pitcher, has great command and velocity and a lot of different pitches. I fully expect for Dylan to compete well at the county and conference levels this year, and to be strongly competing for county player of the year.”

Rhodes said that Wood also contains a high level of leadership and baseball I.Q. that adds to his physical skills.

“He commands the defense when he’s out there at shortstop,” he said. “I feel completely confident in him making adjustments on the mound when he’s out there, and I just can’t say enough about what a quality person, leader and baseball player he is.”

Rhodes anticipates Wood eventually breaking in at second base during his college career, while also being able to contribute on the mound.

“They have a good baseball program at Campbellsville, and I anticipate him being able to contribute well very quickly for them,” he said.

Scott Jelley has been Wood’s coach on the Mafia team, and he said Wood has done a “fantastic” job for the team.

“Since day one, the best thing about him is that he is very versatile,” Jelley said. “Being able to throw as a No. 1 pitcher for us, and also play at shortstop and behind the plate, will make him very valuable for them. He is equally effective at whatever position you put him in.”

Jelley thinks Wood made a good college choice, and the fact that Campbellsville is an NAIA school is not a negative.

“If he ever gets to the point where he could play at the professional level, they’ll find him,” he said. “The most important thing is to find a school you are comfortable with, and he feels very comfortable there. He looked at the school first.”

Paul Butcher operates the Inner Circle Baseball Pitching Academy on the south side of Indianapolis, and said his connection with Wood was coincidental.

“I had another young man who had been coming to me, and they were friends, so he started attending the lessons with him,” he said. “Dylan has a lively arm, and is probably one of the harder throwers in the [Inner Circle] organization. It’s amazing he can produce that kind of power.”

Butcher has clocked Wood’s fastball at 92 miles per hour on a “running gun,“ in which players take a running start on a flat surface before releasing the ball. He said that number translates to about three miles per hour less on a traditional mound.

“He’s very strong, and very rarely do I see kids throw 90 on the running gun,” he said. “Dylan is very capable of throwing in the high 80s off the mound right now.

“The velocity is there, he needs to constantly work on his level of command,” Butcher added. “You have to be more precise in location.”

View 3 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Woo-Hoo! So proud of you Dylan!

    Mama Duggan

    -- Posted by lduggan69 on Mon, Mar 20, 2017, at 6:42 AM

    -- Posted by bain on Mon, Mar 20, 2017, at 9:41 AM

    -- Posted by bain on Mon, Mar 20, 2017, at 9:43 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: