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Morten taking JUCO route with major league in mind
East Union senior catcher Wade Morten will continue his baseball career at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz. Next year. - photo by Bulletin file photo
The four-year college route didn’t work out.
Four years is too long to wait, anyway.
East Union High senior Wade Morten is seeking the quickest path possible to Major League Baseball, and for him that may be the renown Arizona Community College Athletic Conference wooden-bats league .
On Jan. 19, the Bulletin’s 2008 Baseball Player of the year signed to play for Arizona Western College of Yuma, Ariz. The 13-team ACCAC competes with wooden bats until the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I playoffs begin.
Morten could have went to nearby Delta College in Stockton or Modesto Junior College in Modesto, but the high-level of play of the ACCAC, which attracts top-caliber talent from all over North America, appealed to him.
“It’s for people who want to get scouted and go further if they don’t have the money or the grades to go D-I, or for players that didn’t get a chance to go D-I out of high school,” Morten said. “I was getting looked at by a few Division I schools, but mostly Division II and III — it just didn’t seem to be the right fit to me.
“I visited Arizona last year and everything just came together. The coach (John Stratton) is very down to earth and the players were all very nice. He has a great program and he runs it well; he knows what he’s doing.”
Coach Stratton has coached the Matadors since 1984. Last year, AWC finished an even 19-19 in the powerhouse conference, and 26-28 overall.
San Francisco Giants catcher Bengie Molina is among Stratton’s most popular alumni, the rest including long-time BYU coach Gary Pullins and Detroit Tigers director of player personnel Glen Ezell.
Stratton’s track record of getting his players signed and/or drafted was a big selling point for Morten, who hopes to get selected in the two-day amateur baseball draft after his freshman or sophomore season.
“Ever since I was little I’ve always wanted to be a professional baseball player,” he said. “If I do sign professionally I still want to get a college education in case I don’t (make it to the big league).
“If the baseball thing doesn’t work out, I’ll go study law.”
For now, the weight is lifted off his shoulders.
He can concentrate on improving his gaudy 2008 stats (.459 batting average, eight HRs, 31 RBIs, 1.39 OPS), keeping up his grades and working on his senior project.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound backstop led East Union to a 15-11 record last spring. The Lancers made a surprising run to the playoffs, ultimately losing to Valley Oak League rival Oakdale 4-0 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship round.
“I just want us to do better than last year, win some titles,” Morten said.