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Rozier, Laird wait for draft calls

By Doug Gorman

Former Henry County pitcher Michael Rozier is participanting in a national high school all-star game, and high school teammate Jason Laird is playing this summer in a wooden bat league.

Today, there futures could change forever.

Rozier and pitcher Laird are among the hundreds of high school and college players projected to be selected by a major league organization when the draft begins today.

Rozier, the tall, lanky, hard-throwing lefty, has been projected at times as high as a first-round pick.

Rozier, the son of Henry County football coach Mike Rozier, has been on professional baseball teams' radar since he was a talented freshman.

"Michael always had a great work ethic, said Henry County head coach Chuck Campbell. "He was kind of like (former Warhawks) Jarrett Warren, and Ladd Hammond, he started with a great work ethic and got better."

Laird battled through some injuries, and only pitched his senior season as a member of the varsity. He still pitched well enough to attract the attention of major league organizations.

"I probably should have brought Jason up to the varsity at least late in his sophomore year. He was dominating in the junior varsity games," Campbell admitted.

This past season, he bounced back and showed the same type of dominance he displayed as a member of the Warhawks' junior varsity.

"I thought he might be a little bit gun shy after getting hurt," said Campbell. "He really proved me wrong."

Rozier and Laird helped lead the Warhawks to the most wins in school history. Both pitchers breezed through the regular season with unbeaten records and didn't suffer their first losses until East Coweta knocked Henry County out of the playoffs with wins in the second round of the playoffs.

East Coweta eventually advanced to the state title round, losing to Milton

Both Rozier and Laird have options outside of the draft. The two Henry County pitchers have signed college scholarships.

Rozier signed a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina that will also allow him to pursue baseball.

Laird signed a baseball scholarship to Gulf Coast Junior College in Florida.

Because Rozier has a chance to play two sports in college, some teams have dropped off the former Southern Crescent Player of the Year.

"Some teams don't want to waste a really high draft pick on a player they aren't sure they can sign," said Campbell.

Rozier wouldn't have to wait long to be drafted again should he decide to pursue college next fall.

Since he will be 21 at the end of his sophomore year," Rozier will be eligible to be drafted again in two years.

Laird could be drafted under Major League baseball's draft and follow rule, which would allow the junior-college bound baseball player to be drafted and still play in college.

Laird could then sign with the team that drafts him next year.

Former Stockbridge standout Joel Allin is listed on the ESPN.com draft website as a possible pick too.

Allin was an All-Southern Crescent pick during career with the Tigers.

Should the local players get drafted next week, they'll continue a Southern Crescent tradition.

Former Stockbridge pither Kyle Davies (Atlanta Braves), Former Eagle's Landing and Georgia Tech standout Matt Murton (Boston Red Sox) and Joneesboro and Georgia Tech standout Jason Perry (Oakland Athletics) are working their way through the minor leagues with hopes of someday making it to the big leagues.