City pitcher realizes dream, signs with Detroit Tigers

Sarnia’s Jordan Marks has sights set on a career in Major League Baseball. Photo courtesy, USC Upstate Athletics

Troy Shantz

As a kid growing up in Sarnia, Jordan Marks always dreamed of playing baseball for the Detroit Tigers.

Now that dream could become reality.

Detroit selected the right-handed pitcher in the 8th round of this year’s draft and he recently signed a rookie contract with the club.

“It was kind of hard to put in words. It didn’t feel real. It took a couple days to set in,” Marks, 22, told The Journal.

“Honestly, it’s been a dream of mine my whole life. The last couple years (getting to the big leagues) has been what I think about every day I get up.”

Marks played tee-ball in Germain Park as a 5-year-old before making his way through the Sarnia Braves (now Sarnia Brigade) organization. By Grade 9 he was playing for the London-based Great Lakes Canadians in the Premier Baseball League.

Taking the mound was strategic.

“I looked at it from a strictly logistical standpoint,” he said. “Every team has 12 or 13 pitchers, but you only have one or two playing other positions.”

U.S. tournaments put the Bright’s Grove teen on the radar of university scouts. After graduating from Great Lakes Secondary, he accepted a scholarship to the University of South Carolina. He graduated this year, after posting a 2.54 ERA and 101 strikeouts over 15 starts and 95 innings in his final season.

With a fastball clocked up to 98 miles per hour, Marks was ranked 150th on Baseball America’s top 500, and 196th on Major League Baseball Pipeline’s top picks.

“The command of my fastball is a little better than a lot of guys. I think I can command the ball pretty well,” he said.

On draft day, parents John and Kelly made the trip to South Carolina to be with him. He’d already spoken to two other major league clubs, and didn’t know where he would wind up, he said.

Then he received a text that the Tigers were interested, and minutes later his name went up on the TV screen.

“It takes a lot of people to accomplish something like that – parents, coaches, teachers. It’s really rewarding,” he said.

The deal with the Tigers is a multi-year, $150,000 rookie contract. He became just the second University of South Carolina player drafted in the first 10 rounds.

“My grandfather is a huge Tiger’s fan. It’s been pretty cool. He’s been loving it.”

Elder brothers Jess and Jake also played university baseball, he said.

Marks is currently stationed in Lakeland, Florida where management will assign him to one of the Tiger’s four farm teams.

Spring training starts in March 2022.