Eight months ago, former TJC outfielder Eric Weiss was waiting by the phone for the call that would determine his future.
On March 2, the ex-Apache, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last June, will report to his first professional spring training camp.
“It is different,” Weiss said. “You get so used to being at home. As soon as February starts, you start thinking about it. I’m pretty anxious. I am ready to get out and show off what I can do.”
However, his journey from Tyler to Anaheim hasn’t come without some uncertainty. He had to wait until the 35th round of last summer’s amateur draft to hear his name called and find out about his future.
Weiss said that during his junior year at Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi, he never talked to any pro scouts. But last spring, after a strong start to his senior season, he was contacted by the Colorado Rockies.
However, it was the Angels that followed him throughout the season. He said he was getting a call every two or three weeks or the Angels’ scout was at one of his games.
Once the draft started, he waited. And he waited.
“It was nerve-racking,” Weiss said. “I told everyone I wasn’t nervous. I was following the draft pick by pick, but I knew if I was going to get drafted, it was going to be in the last 10 rounds. When it got to the 32nd, and 33rd rounds, I was starting to accept that it wasn’t meant to be.
“Then I got a call from the scout that had been watching me. He told me to make sure I was following the draft because he thought they were getting ready to call my name. I got onto my computer and the 35th round started and my name was called.”
He called it a dream come true and one of the best baseball moments of his career. But after the career he had at TJC and Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi, he deserved at least a shot.
Weiss hit .327 with 11 doubles, four triples, four home runs and 42 RBIs during his senior season at Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi, leading the team in on-base plus slugging percentage (.880)
A First-Team All-Southland Conference honoree, Weiss placed ninth in the conference in batting average, hitting safely in 46 of 57 games. He did not commit an error over 157 total chances in center field.
During his final home stand as an Islander – a three-game series against Lamar – Weiss batted .533 with six runs scored and five RBIs. He was named Southland Conference Hitter of the Week.
While at TJC, Weiss posted a .401 batting average with 73 RBIs and 35 stolen bases leading the Apaches to an overall two-year record of 85-26 along with a NJCAA District C Championship (2010), NJCAA National Runner-Up (2010), and NJCAA District C Runner-Up (2011).
“Everything about those two years (at TJC) was special,” Weiss said. “It was easily two of the best years I have had playing. Baseball is supposed to be fun and it was. You aren’t going to get anywhere without hard work. That was something Coach (Doug) Wren always told us. He taught us to play as a team and to reach for our goals.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without those two years.”
Weiss was recently recognized at the 10th South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet on Jan. 29, at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center in Corpus Christi.
Before heading to Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi to continue his collegiate career, Weiss played in the NJCAA Texas-New Mexico All Star Game, earned NJCAA All-American honors, named to the NJCAA Region XIV All-Academic Team and graduated with his Associate of Arts degree.
“Eric was a player that really came into his own during his time here,” TJC Head Coach Doug Wren said. “Eric worked extremely hard and was a team leader. He has natural leadership abilities and it was very evident from the beginning.
“His statistics during his time here speak for his level of play, but it was the leadership that he brought on off the field that really elevated his game and others around him. He was the anchor for a sophomore class that set a record for number of wins in a two-year span.”
Now he gets the chance to prove his skills at the next level, but not at the position he expected.
At Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi, Weiss was mainly an outfielder, but when a catcher went out with an injury he filled in at that position.
When the Angels’ scout followed him, he told him that he couldn’t draft him as an outfielder, but could as a catcher. Eager for any opportunity, Weiss told him that wouldn’t be a problem.
After he was drafted, he was assigned to play for the Arizona League Angels last summer and said it was everything he expected.
“Once I was drafted, within a couple of weeks I flew to Tempe (Ariz.) to play with mostly newly drafted players. We practiced five to six times a week during the day and played games at night. It was sign your pro career as started. I just wanted to get better every day and start impressing coaches.”
Weiss feels like he did great during his summer experience. He said he played as hard as he could and controlled what he could control and left it all out there.
Now the former Apache is looking forward to his first spring training as a professional with the hopes of making a roster and continuing to play the game he loves.
One of Weiss’ TJC teammates, Jason Jester, was also drafted last June. He was picked in the 30th round by the San Diego Padres.
However, the current Texas A&M; Aggie opted to stay in school and play his senior season. He set the single-season saves record at the school and is looking to become the program’s all-time saves leader this spring.
Once his senior season is over, he will again be anticipating a call in June during the draft and if he plays to his potential, he likely won’t have to wait until the 30th round.