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Move over, Al Kaline – draft pick's grandpa has new favourite Tiger

Even after Jordan Marks signs with the Detroit Tigers, he still may not have the most Old English D clothing in his family.

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Even after Jordan Marks signs with the Detroit Tigers, he still may not have the most Old English D clothing in his family.

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That distinction belongs to Sarnia’s Al Stocks, who was ecstatic when his grandson was chosen by the Tigers in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball draft.

“He’s a huge Tigers fan,” said Marks, a 22-year-old pitcher from Bright’s Grove. “He’s got every hat and shirt there is for the Tigers. Big Al Kaline fan.”

The University of South Carolina Upstate senior chatted with his grandfather on FaceTime after being selected 225th overall Monday.

“He was over the moon about it,” Marks said. “He was almost in disbelief a little bit. He’s been a Tigers fan his whole life, so it was pretty special.”

The news was still sinking in Tuesday for Marks as well.

“It was pretty nerve-racking,” he said about the draft. “It hasn’t exactly set in yet. I think when I get flown down there and get familiar with the complex and all that kind of stuff, it’ll probably set in a little bit more then.

“Right now, my day to day hasn’t really changed other than my phone just getting blown up.”

He expects to travel soon to the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Fla. He’s eager to sign a contract and begin his minor league career.

“Being 22, in the eyes of professional baseball, I’m a little bit older to be a draft pick. I think they’re going to want to move fast and I’ll probably just be sent straight to an affiliate,” said the six-foot-two, 220-pound right-hander.

Marks had known the Tigers were interested since at least January when he spoke with one of their scouts. But he was in touch with a half-dozen teams during the draft, so there was no guarantee he’d land in Detroit.

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“At the end of the seventh round I got a text from my adviser saying, ‘The Tigers are going to take you with the next pick,’” Marks said. “You can say that, but you don’t really know until it happens. I kind of knew maybe two or three minutes ahead of time.”

He was sure he’d be drafted after a standout season in which he was named the Big South Conference pitcher of the year.

“I was in a position where I don’t think it was really a matter of if, it was more just a matter of when. That calmed the nerves a little bit,” he said. “I knew at the end of the day I was probably going to get a shot. I was in a better position than probably most were. I felt confident.

“Obviously there’s not too many ways to prepare for hearing your name called like that, but I was just staying ready and trying to stay positive. There’s a lot of picks. It felt like eternity when I was watching it, just seeing all the guys’ names still up there. But I’m glad it happened the way it did.”

Marks went 10-2 with a 2.54 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 95.2 innings. He led the Big South in wins, ERA, strikeout-to-walk ratio and WHIP.

He set the Upstate Spartans’ single-season records for wins and strikeouts. His 21 career wins are also a school record.

A good, but COVID-shortened, junior season in 2020 had caught scouts’ attention. He was 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.

“The senior season just put it over the edge,” he said. “During quarantine, I really buckled down and did what I had to do to put myself in this position.”

Marks spent last summer at school. Facilities were closed for the first half of the summer, so he and his teammates made up their own workouts: bench-pressing tires, carrying sandbags, doing pull-ups on random objects.

He’s still at school this summer preparing for life as a pro.

“I’ve been trying to throw almost every day. Just trying to stay ready for whatever the future brings,” he said.

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