Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
Victoria, BC (ISN) - ISN has confirmed that Victoria baseball player Jesse Hodges, currently in the midst of an excellent run with the Canadian National Junior team in Seoul, South Korea, has signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Full details of the contract, which according to sources included an undisclosed signing bonus, as well as an educational clause, were not available, but it is expected that following the World Junior Tournament, Hodges will report to the Cubs training facility in Mesa, Arizona where he may see some playing time for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, and then of course report to spring training in March of 2013.
After that, it will be up to the organization and of course Hodges talent and development level, as to where he plays after that. The Cubs have a number of minor league affiliates that Hodges could be assigned to including the Iowa Cubs (AAA), Tennessee Smokies (AA), Dayton Cubs (A), Peoria Chiefs (A), Boise Hawks (A Short Season), and the the Solar Sox (Rookie League and Arizona Fall League).
Victoria Mariner grad Jesse Hodges has signed a free agent contract with the MLB Chicago Cubs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In signing with the MLB team, Hodges will forgo attending, for now, Grayson College in Dennison, Texas, where he was scheduled to begin classes this September.
Hodges, who was surprisingly bypassed in this year's MLB draft, is enjoying a successful ride with the Canadian Junior National team, and leads the Candian squad in batting, with a .455 average through six games. In their first game against Japan, Hodges stroked a game-tying 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th inning and then scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th to kick-start the Canadians to their current 5-1 record. Most recently Hodges was 2 for 4 in Canada's 1-0 win over the USA on Wednesday morning.
Reached in Seoul for comment, Hodges was excited about his pro prospects, but also kept things in perspective, "Getting signed is an amazing feeling, as it shows that all my hard work is starting to pay off, however all that matters right now is my Canadian teammates and going for that Gold medal here. I need to stay focused on that right now."
Hodges is a recent graduate from Lambrick Park High School in Victoria, and played with the Victoria Mariners of the BCPBL this past season where he hit .341 in 37 games, compiling eight doubles, two home runs and 33 RBIs. Hodges also took to the mound every so often for the Mariners, compiling a 4-2 record with a 2.55 ERA, striking out 28 in 24.2 innings.
Hodges's Mom Sharon, who is in Korea with the Junior National team is extremely proud as one might expect, "Jesse has always had a dream of playing in the MLB and it is now approaching reality. We have never lost faith or hope in Jessie and his dreams and couldn't be any prouder of him. His goals are starting to be realized because he has continued to work hard and never gave up."
Hodges father Steve, who himself played on the Canadian Junior National and National teams and up to the minor pro level, echoes those sentiments, "I've always been proud of him and I have been fortunate to have a son with good character and good class and I am really happy for him. I was very proud that he received a full scholarship to Grayson College, so now to have him be signed by a Major League club is even more incredible. He's worked hard to improve this season, and to now be performing like he has on the world stage is fantastic. It has been his dream, and now he is doing it!"
"Jesse was very disappointed when he did not get drafted into the pros this season" added Hodges, "but he didn't let it get him down and he continued to work hard, persevere and now he has been rewarded with that opportunity. It is an exciting time for him and as a Dad, its just fantastic for me!"
Hodges and his Team Canada Junior teammates continue their play in the World Junior in Seoul and have a game against Columbia on Thursday and then closing game with South Korea on Friday. A first or second place finish will put them into the Gold medal game.