When Trent Woodward found out he was promoted to Triple-A Fresno, his jaw dropped.
“It was the last thing I was expecting,” he said.
Sixteen months ago, the 23-year-old catcher was playing college ball at Fresno State. Occasionally, he and his teammates would venture to Chukchansi Park for a Grizzlies game.
Now, some of those old teammates are watching Woodward from the stands.
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“It’s weird,” Woodward said of the aftermath of his Aug. 29 promotion, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I still get their support and text messages and they’re super excited.”
And he has returned the favor by stopping by a few Bulldogs practices since returning to the central San Joaquin Valley.
I’m just extremely grateful to have this opportunity to come and soak it in. There’s a lot of knowledge in the dugout and clubhouse.
Trent Woodward, ex-Fresno State player who was recently promoted to the Fresno Grizzlies
Woodward played just one season for the Bulldogs as a transfer from Orange Coast College. After sitting out his first year on campus because of Tommy John surgery, he started all 57 games (22 at first base, 19 at catcher, 16 as the designated hitter) in his redshirt junior season in 2014.
He gave up his final year of college eligibility and entered the June 2014 baseball draft. Houston called his name in the 20th round.
Fresno marks his fifth minor league stop, and he arrives with the franchise enjoying a banner year that will include its first trip to the postseason since its inaugural year of 1998.
“I’m just extremely grateful to have this opportunity to come and soak it in,” Woodward said. “There’s a lot of knowledge in the dugout and clubhouse.”
He started this season with Double-A Corpus Christi, spending two games with the Hooks before he was assigned to Class-A short-season Tri-City in New York. Seven games later, he was shipped to low-A Quad Cities, batting .294 in 31 games before joining Triple-A Fresno this past weekend.
Woodward made his Grizzlies debut a week ago, subbing in for catcher Tyler Heineman in the sixth at Omaha. In the top of the seventh, he hit a two-out single in his first at-bat. He got a start Monday at home against Albuquerque and went 1 for 4 while batting eighth.
With their new catcher behind the plate, the Grizzlies beat the Isotopes that day 10-5.
Returning to a familiar place and playing in front of his “Fresno family” is a thrill, he admits, but there is a job to do.
“To come in,” he said, “step up and be a little piece of the puzzle for the Grizzlies,” who entered Friday needing one win to break a tie with the 1998 club for the most victories in club history.
“Nothing is better than winning, so being here is really important to me.”
Trent Woodward file
- Age: 23
- Height/weight: 6-2, 215
- Hits/throws: Switch/right
- Position: Catcher
- Draft: 20th round by the Houston Astros in 2014
- Born: San Dimas
- Schools: Fresno State/Orange Coast JC/Chino Hills High