With each passing season, the baseball talent pool from Georgia’s high schools grows deeper and better. Players from all around the Peach State have the talent to make it in professional baseball – as evidenced once again this year by the 55 high school and college players selected that call Georgia home.
Each summer, the Georgia Dugout Club selects its Top 100 team after hosting open tryouts across the state for the top rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. For all of the talent that Georgia holds, Statesboro High stands out this year as the Blue Devils have five players selected — the most of any school in the state — to join the Top 100.
Today and Friday, Statesboro’s Blakely Brown, Colin Chance, Jordan Finch, Jackson Ware and Mahlon Williams will compete against similar all-star squads from Alabama and Tennessee in a showcase of what could make up some of the stars of the next few years of MLB drafts. The games and workout sessions will be held at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville.
“Obviously our team is very excited about,” SHS coach Jim Simmons said. “I know that our guys are excited for the opportunity. They are great teammates, but this gives them a chance to represent their school, the county, and the state and gives them a chance to show what they can do as individuals.”
Even in the selection process for the squad, the Devils proved themselves against other outstanding high school players. Several earned their spots after being evaluated on their home turf, but Brown and Finch went to Gwinnett and Milledgeville, respectively, to workout in front of the scouts who helped to assemble the Top 100.
“I knew that there were going to be a lot of talented players out there,” Finch said. “I just tried to focus on doing the best that I could and performing the way I know I can.”
Players were evaluated in several areas. Scouts timed players throwing the ball across the infield, hitting balls off of a tee, and — for pitchers — a short bullpen session.
Despite everything that the quintet showed that it could do during the Devils’ run to the state playoffs this spring, standing out from the crowd in a short tryout was a different challenge. With only a few opportunities to prove that they belonged in the Top 100, the group had to rise to the expectations of their evaluators under much different circumstances than those usually encountered in a game.
“I just tried not to think about it too much,” Chance said. “You know that there’s a lot of pressure to do your best, but you can’t try to hard.”
All of the Top 100 will have a great opportunity to be seen by professional and collegiate scouts, but when the summer showcase season concludes there will still be plenty for the Devils to look forward to.
Ware and Chance are rising seniors while Brown and Finch will be juniors and Williams will begin his sophomore season next spring. For a team that has been steadily improving for two seasons, this solid core could have the Devils striving for big things in 2014.
“All of the credit goes to the kids,” Simmons said. “The team has worked very hard to improve and these five guys have done the work necessary to put them in a position to make this Top 100 team.
“I’m sure they’ll do well up in Gwinnett and I’m sure that we’ll keep working towards another good season next year.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.