Wojciechowski Adjusting To Life As A Baseball Player

After spending three years at The Citadel, which, as a military college, enforces a strict and busy lifestyle, you can't blame Asher Wojciechowski for having trouble passing his new-found excess of time.

Apart from the time he spends at the field with the short-season Auburn Doubledays, Wojciechowski, who doesn't even have a car to get around town, doesn't have many options for entertainment.

"What I'm trying to get used to is the down time," Wojciechowski said. "Comparing that to college, where I was on a strict schedule, I had classes to go to and I didn't really have much down time."

Through three starts in the New York-Penn League, it appears that learning how to stave off occasional bouts of boredom is the only immediate adjustment the 22-year-old needed to make to acclimate himself to professional baseball. In his first three starts with Auburn, the righthander has given up just one run on six hits while striking out 11 batters in 12 innings.

"I've pretty much been throwing my stuff," Wojciechowski said. "I've gone after hitters and haven't really changed my (mental) game."

With a big 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, Wojciechowski, 21, possesses a hard fastball that tops out around 96 mph and an above-average slider, which enticed him to the Blue Jays.

"For us, it was a combination of fastball velocity, fastball command, the quality of the slider and the competitiveness," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Andrew Tinnish said of Wojciechowski. "He's a big, durable guy who's had a lot of success."

Wojciechowski has thrown his changeup more frequently with Auburn, a pitch for which he is rapidly getting a better feel. He didn't throw it very much in college, and when he did, it was a below-average pitch. But he is now making an effort to develop it into a solid offering. With two plus pitches already in his arsenal, developing a good changeup would give him yet another way to attack hitters.

"I think it's coming along well," Tinnish said. "He hasn't been in (Auburn) for a long time yet, but it's definitely progressing well. We think it's going to be a usable major league pitch for him down the road."

While Wojciechowski currently projects to be a No. 3 starter in the big leagues, his ceiling could be bumped up a notch if he can develop his changeup into a quality pitch.

"I think he's got a chance to (be a No. 2)," Tinnish said. "The way we see him right now, we certainly feel like he's a middle of the rotation type starter . . . But with his makeup and his competitiveness, if that third pitch becomes a weapon for him, then there's no telling what he might end up being."

Ready For The World

Wojciechowski knows that his professional career won't always go as smoothly as it has started, of course, but he feels that his unique college experience readied him for whatever comes his way.

"(My experience at The Citadel) was definitely different, but I feel it prepared me for just about anything," Wojciechowski said. "Going to a discipline school where you have set rules that you follow and abide by. You're always told what you're going to do and that's kind of how it is in professional baseball. You've got rules you have to follow and you have to listen to someone else."

With a strong background as a military student, Wojciechowski's makeup is yet another factor that made him attractive.

"Our background work on him makeup wise has been plus across the board," Tinnish said. "Not just with how he competes on the field, but the things he does off the field and how he works.

"A lot of that comes from attending a military school like The Citadel, but I think a lot of it was there in him before he went to school."

Come On Down

Wojciechowski wound up with the Blue Jays by falling down draft boards.

After last summer, when he went 2-1, 2.18 in 21 innings with the USA Baseball collegiate national team and this spring, when he won twelve games on his way to becoming the Southern Conference pitcher of the year, it looked like Wojciechowski could be taken with a single-digit or low-teen pick. However, he fell all the way to the supplemental first round and was taken with the 41st overall pick.

"I was just anxious the whole time," Wojciechowski said of draft day. "I had no idea where I was going to go. I didn't know if I was going to go in the teens or late in the first round. I didn't really know what was happening. Overall, it was still a great experience getting taken in the supplemental round."

After hearing from several teams throughout the day that were interested in taking him early, he admitted that it was a little bit of a letdown that his name wasn't called earlier.

"At the time (I was disappointed about falling in the draft), but in the overall big picture I never expected a year ago to be picked in the supplemental round . . . It was more confusing than disappointment."

Wojciechowski wasn't the only one who didn't know when his name would be called. The Blue Jays were also in the dark about whether he would be around when they picked.

"We heard multiple landing spots before the end of the first round," Tinnish said. "Why he didn't go there, I don't know. But certainly, we're really excited to get him at 41."