Despite broken arm, Toole drawing MLB interest

BY RYAN YOUNG | MAY 15, 2009 7:28 AM

Justin Toole isn’t letting his broken arm get in the way of his baseball future.

With the MLB first-year players draft set for June 9, the senior shortstop has been talking to a number of major-league teams.

He declined to name specific clubs but did say “quite a few” were from the Midwest.

“Obviously, there is some interest,” said Toole, who isn’t represented by an agent. “I haven’t had any in-depth conversations, but I assume it’s just the way I approach the field every day. I would consider myself to be a pretty consistent player, so I would think that would be something they would look at.”

Consistency in the batter’s box is certainly Toole’s claim to fame around Banks Field. During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the Council Bluffs native hit well over .350, and despite his injury in late April, his offensive statistics still stand as some of the best on the team.

The preseason All-American boasts the third-highest batting average for the Hawkeyes at .346. In 156 at-bats, he tallied 54 hits, 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 25 RBIs.

But even with stellar numbers, major-league scouts are fretting over Toole’s fractured arm.

“Whenever we talk to the scouts, the question is, ‘When is he going to be healthy?’ ” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said. “A lot of the pro scouts saw Justin the first weekend of the year, but some of them hadn’t seen him. They were waiting to see what kind of progress he made throughout the year, and some of them haven’t had the opportunity to see him a second time. “We’re wondering if he’d be able to work out for them before the draft. But you know, Justin has played a lot for us over the last three years, so they’ve had opportunities to see him.”

Toole said he doesn’t foresee his appendage affecting his draft stock. He may be limited in practice, but the Iowa cocaptain rides a stationary bike to keep his legs in shape and improve his cardio.

“It’s kind of a tough situation for Justin and also for [senior third baseman] Kevin Hoef that they’ve been hurt and haven’t been able to play in the last couple weeks,” Dahm said. “But there is definitely some interest. You know, no guarantees from anyone that he’s going to be drafted, but there is definitely some interest in him, and also in Kevin.”

Last June, Hoef was one of two Hawkeyes selected in the 2008 draft, going in the 48th round to the Boston Red Sox as the 1,450th overall pick.

Since 2003, 12 of Dahm’s players have been drafted; 81 Hawkeyes have signed professional contracts since 1929, including former All-Star Mike Boddicker and Iowa Associate Athletics Director Fred Mims.

But at 6-0 and 173 pounds, Dahm knows his veteran shortstop isn’t exactly eye-catching.

“Justin isn’t a kid that’s going to ‘Wow’ you with his tools,” he said. “There are faster guys out there. There are guys with stronger arms. There are guys that hit for more power. But what Justin is is a baseball player. The more you see Justin, the more you appreciate what he can bring to the field.
“You know, so much in professional baseball for a senior is getting in the right situation and the right organization that will give him a chance to prove himself.”

Right now, that’s just about all Toole is asking for after serving four years with the Hawkeyes.
“Obviously more than anything, you want an opportunity,” he said. “It’s definitely something that I’ve worked toward. Now, I just have to sit back and see what happens.”

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