John Wooten enjoying life in New York-Penn League
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on July 10, 2012 1:48 PM
There is no finer place in the United States to spend a summer than in the hills of Vermont.
The scenery is beautiful, the weather is pleasant and the people are friendly. And the baseballs fly through the light air with ease.
Goldsboro native John Wooten is enjoying the "Green Mountain State" just fine while currently patrolling the outfield for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New York-Penn League.
"Vermont is great and it is a really fun place to play baseball," Wooten said. "I have been learning a lot from the coaches up here and just trying to soak everything in this summer."
After spending three seasons at East Carolina, Wooten got the news that his name had been called during the Major League Baseball first-year player draft in June. The Oakland Athletics selected the power-hitting outfielder, and flew him to Arizona for a physical and to sign his first big league contract.
A few days later the call came in to pack for Vermont.
"It was exciting, the whole draft process," Wooten said. "I got my stuff together and the team set me up with a host family. I flew up, unpacked and started the first game that I was on the roster."
He has started every game since.
Just 21 games into the Class-A short season, Wooten is batting .316 with two home runs and 14 RBI. He has even heard a familiar chant during some of his at-bats.
"I have heard the Wooooo-ten chant a few times," Wooten said. "Just like the guys used to do when I was at East Carolina."
The ability to play multiple positions in the field has made Wooten a valuable asset to Lake Monster's manager Rick Magnante. Wooten has played first base, third base, right field and left field so far. Any place that can keep his bat in the starting lineup is fine with him.
"I really don't have a preference where the coaches play me," Wooten said. "I just love to hit and I want to be in the lineup every day so I can get my swings."
Playing in the historic New York-Penn League has provided its share of learning experiences.
"When I met my host family, the first thing the man of the house said to me was 'You better hit .300,'" Wooten said. "The people up here love baseball and they take it very seriously. There is a lot of history in the towns we visit like Auburn (NY.), Williamsport (Pa.) and Lowell (Mass.)."
There is no way to know if Wooten's run through the league will be historic, but right now he could not care less.
"I just want to keep playing," Wooten said. "Everything else will fall into place. For me the most important thing is to keep getting better and keep myself in the lineup."
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