Players more important than draft status

By Doug Gorman

I have been covering the Major League Baseball's draft since entering the sports writing business in 1988.

Former Newton County standout Tim Hyers was the first baseball player I wrote about who actually got drafted.

Hyers was a talented athlete with lots of options, including a scholarship offer to Georgia Tech. In the end, Hyers ended up signing with the Toronto Blue Jays organization right out of high school.

Hyers played professional baseball for nine years, through the 1999 season, spending part of four seasons, including 133 games in the big leagues, which included stops with the Padres, Tigers and Marlins.

It was exciting watching Hyers get a chance. I always remember Hyers and his family to be class acts.

As far as I know, he is the only player I have covered to make it to the Majors. Maybe, there have been others, but to be honest, I really haven't kept up with who has made it and who hasn't.

Normally, I don't go out on a limb and predict who is going to make it anyway.

Certainly, I think former Southern Crescent draft picks Kyle Davies, Jason Perry and Matt Murton are capable of someday playing in the big leagues.

As for this year's draft, all I can say is unbelievable. Five players from the Southern Crescent answered the phone on Monday or Tuesday only to learn they had been picked by a major league franchise.

I don't know if any of these players will ever make it to a big league stadium, but it's a feel good story.

The five local men, who were picked in this year's draft, love baseball, but they also have their heads on straight.

They are smart enough to know there are no guarantees. More than a thousand players are selected in every draft.

In all honesty, I think my favorite story regarding this year's draft came in the Braves' selection of Trae Wiggins.

Wiggins is a prime example of a person not giving up on his dream. Wiggins almost found his career over before his senior year after he was cut from the Stockbridge baseball team.

A quick transfer to Mt. Zion Academy revived Wiggins' career and he later earned a scholarship to Brewton Parker College.

In college, the lanky left-handed pitcher turned into a pro prospect.

Wiggins' draft scenario could be the story line for a Hollywood movie, especially since he is a life-long Braves' fan, who admitted to being disappointed when Fulton County Stadium was torn down years ago.

The man who was once cut from his public school baseball team was the highest pick of the local draftees after getting selected in the seventh round by the Braves.

As a 12th-round pick by the Boston Red Sox, Michael Rozier was selected lower than most predicted. It doesn't matter, because the former Henry County left-handed pitcher has the option of going to the University of North Carolina to play both baseball and football.

His 90-mile-an-hour fastball is sure to give him a chance to make it in pro baseball, even if there's a detour through the picturesque Tar Hill campus.

Former Henry County pitcher Jason Laird, Stockbridge catcher Zach Walden and Jonesboro standout Alfred Arnold have also been drafted.

All three will probably still go to college. It will give them a chance to work on their games, get an education, and still keep their boyhood dreams of playing professional baseball alive and well.

I say that a pretty deal all around.

(Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the of the Daily. His column appears on Friday. He can be emailed to dgorman@news-daily.com)