By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Three sign from Georgia Premier Academy
GPA.jpg
Georgia Premier Academy players (seated, from left to right) Andrew Washington, Daniel Espino and Dylan Ross are joined by coaches (standing, from left to right) Gary Cates and Gene Reynolds as they sign letters of intent during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon. - photo by MIKE ANTHONY

The Georgia Premier Academy now has a full year under its belt in Statesboro of being an organization dedicated to providing youth baseball players with the education and training necessary to reach the next level.


Ironically, it was a cold and soggy Wednesday afternoon that drove that point home.

With academy members gathered in the complex’s commons area, three GPA players signed official letters of intent to continue their education and playing careers at the collegiate level.


A trio of big right-handed arms was celebrated as pitchers Daniel Espino, Dylan Ross and Andrew Washington all announced their commitments. Espino will attend LSU, with Ross committing to Eastern Kentucky and Washington headed to South Florida.


“This is our first full school year here at the Statesboro campus,” GPA director Tony Ross said. “We’re still building and growing and we’re very proud of our three latest players who will be signing.”


Georgia Premier Academy offers an immersive baseball experience for prep players looking to earn a college scholarship. The program features rigorous daily training and elite level tournaments throughout the season, but also puts faith and education before the game. GPA’s campus houses many of its players which includes a large contingent of international talent.


Online courses make up the beginning of the day for players, with training and fellowship taking up the afternoons and evenings.


Head coach and director of baseball operations Gene Reynolds highlighted some of the program’s recent records and tournament titles ahead of Wednesday’s recognition, but also took pride in looking at the big picture.


“We now have 50 kids from the program who have signed scholarships in the last four years,” Reynolds said. “We’ve got another seven who are signed to professional contracts. We’re happy for those guys and we take a lot of pride in knowing that we do things the right way here. We compete and want to win on the field, but we’re also going to be a program that has kids who show great sportsmanship and put in the effort in the classroom.”


According to current rankings, Wednesday’s signees all rank in the top 57 of current Georgia prep prospects.


Espino is the top-rated pitcher in the nation and the No. 3 overall prospect in the country. A native of Panama, he has spent his last three years at GPA and is grateful to see all of his hard work pay off.


“It’s a big day,” Espino said. “I worked hard to do this for myself and for my family. This was the goal and the dream three years ago and it’s great to have that day finally come.”


Ross is an intimidating presence, measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Reynolds praised the righty’s ability to find an extra gear in his training and preparation over the last year, using it as an example to the other GPA players at the ceremony of what a grinding and positive mentality can acheive.


“This is something I’ve wanted since I was a little kid,” Ross said. “It’s a big commitment. I’m thankful for everyone here (at GPA). It’s a lot of work, but there is a lot of support and things are scheduled out so that we can put focus on all the right things.” 


Washington is one of the newer members of the program. The right-hander came to Statesboro from the Atlanta area and immediately made waves. His fastball touched 94 miles per hour over the summer, gaining the interest of plenty of big collegiate programs before South Florida won out.


“Finally signing takes a lot of pressure off me, but I know that there’s still a lot of work to do,” Washington said. “I like it a lot here at the Academy and the balance that we have between grades and baseball sets us up to be successful at the next level.”