The Georgia Southern Eagles have had plenty of success in the Major League baseball draft throughout the years. For the second time in the past four years the Eagles have had a pair of players selected in the top 10 rounds as senior pitcher Nick Jones was selected in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Angels, while fellow senior pitcher Jordan Jackson was a 10th round pick of the Seattle Mariners.
“I’m so proud of those guys and going in the top 10 rounds says a lot about what the scout’s think of them,” said Georgia Southern coach Rodeny Hennon. “This is one of the things both of those guys worked for and now they have the chance at pursuing their dreams. It’s a good thing for our program as well. Any time you have guys that come into your program and develop into potential Major Leaguers it’s a win for everybody involved.”
Jones tied the school record for saves in a season with 17. He also had 67 strikeouts in 42 and ⅔ innings pitched with an ERA of 1.48. Jones was a semifinalist for the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy and a finalist for the NCAA Stopper of the Year.
“It is definitely a dream come true for sure,” said Jones. “I wasn’t really sure who or where I’d be going but the Angles called me and said they were interested and a couple minutes later I was picked. I was excited as well as relieved because I could quit worrying about it.”
Not having received a single scholarship offer out of high school, Jones came to Georgia Southern as a walk-on and his hard work paid off as he parlayed an amazing season into an eighth-round selection.
“It is truly a remarkable story,” said Hennon. “The fact that he was a guy that just came out during walk-on tryouts and now he is an eighth-round draft pick. He really worked hard to get to this point and put in a lot of hours working on his control issues. It says a lot about Nick and how hard he has worked.”
“When I walked onto campus as a freshman having no scholarship offers, I never thought I’d be in this position,” said Jones. “I was so thankful they gave me a shot here at Georgia Southern and now I get a shot with the Angels. I’m sure the season I had this year really helped me a lot. It was hard not to notice the scouts sometimes when I pitched but I tried my best to put all that out of my mind and just concentrate on winning the games.”
While Jones was at a former coach's house ready for the call, Jackson was actually flying high even before he knew he had been selected by the Mariners.
“I was actually on a flight home from Washington DC when I was drafted so I didn’t even know until after we landed,” said Jackson. “I had a feeling the call may come while I was on the plane so as soon as we landed, I hurried to check my voice mail and was so excited when I heard the news. I really had no idea what day I may go on, but Seattle was one of the team that showed a lot of interest. I’m excited to head to Arizona and get things started this week.”
For Jackson it wasn’t necessarily what he did throughout the year that caught scout’s eyes but rather how he finished off his senior year. Jackson struggled for much of the season but showed his promise over the final few months including a gem in the Sun Belt Conference semifinals in which he had eight strikeouts and allowed only one run in helping the Eagles to a 3-2 victory over Louisiana.
“I feel the way I closed the season really helped my stock go up,” said Jackson. “I had my doubts at time this year, but I really worked hard and I’m thankful my coaches believed in me. Towards the end of the year, I really felt good, and things started falling in place.”
“I am so proud of Jordan and the growth he made during the season,” said Hennon. “You find out a lot about a person when you go through tough times. Jordan went through some struggles early in the season, but he never gave up on himself and came through with a couple outstanding performances at the end of the year.”
This marks the fifth time in the last eight drafts the Eagles have had multiple players selected. Locally Georgia Premier Academy also had a pair of players selected in the 2021 MLB draft. Pitcher Mitch Bratt was selected in the fifth round by the Texas Rangers and pitcher Erian Rodriguez was a 13th round pick of the Chicago Cubs.