By Doug Gorman
For three former local high school baseball standouts, the dream of playing in the Major Leagues could soon become a reality.
Pitcher Kyle Davies, and outfielders Matt Murton and Jason Perry will begin the 2005 season at the triple-A levels of their respective organizations, just one step away from the majors.
Former Henry County pitcher Michael Rozier begins his career with Greenville in the Boston Red Sox's Class é organization.
Kyle Davies (Richmond Braves):
The former standout pitcher at Stockbridge High School is expected to get the call today as the Richmond Braves starting pitcher when they open the 2005 season this afternoon at Buffalo.
Davies, who worked his way from the Class A level last season before ending the year at Richmond, is considered one of the Braves' top pitching prospects.
At Richmond, Davies picked up the win last year against Columbus to give the R-Braves the International League title.
The hard-throwing righty finished the 2004 season with 173 strikeouts.
Davies began his pro career in Macon in 2001after a stellar high school career with the Tigers. Davies was the Daily-Herald Player of the Year as a senior.
Matt Murton (West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx-Cubs Organization):
Just three years ago, Matt Murton helped lead the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to a trip to the Colllege World Series, a 52-16 record and a No. 5-ranking in final college baseball poll.
Soon the power-hitting outfielder could be patrolling the outfield at famous Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The former Eagle's Landing and Georgia Tech standout began his pro career in the Boston Red Sox organziation, but was traded to the Cubs as part of the Nomar Garciaparra deal.
Murton split his time last year with the Sarasotoa Red Sox and the Daytona Beach Cubs, both Class A teams. In 102 games with Sarastoa, Murton hit 301 with 11 homers. After the trade, he played in 24 games for Daytona Beach, hitting .253.
During the Florida State League All-Star game festivities last year, Murton won the home run derby.
Jason Perry (Sacramento Rivercats/Athletics
Like his college teammate, Matt Murton, Jason Perry played a key role for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during his college career.
During Tech's 2002 season, Perry hit .325 with 12 home runs. Perry turned pro at the end of the 2002 season, and has been working his way through the Oakland Athletics organization ever since.
A year ago, at Modesta, the team's Class A organization, Perry, who played for Jonesboro coach Don Corr in high school, belted 24 home runs and drove in 80 RBIs.
Those offensive numbers garned Perry an invite to the Major League spring training camp with Okland. On March 15, he was optioned back to the minors and sent to the Sacramento Rivedogs camp, the team's triple-A affiliated.
Michael Rozier (Greenville Bombers/Red Sox
This time last year, Henry County pitcher Michael Rozier was weighing several important decisions. The hard-throwing left-handed pitcher could attend the college on the football scholarship he signed with North Carolina, or head straight to the minor leagues after getting drafted by the Boston Red Sox organization.
In the end, his desire to begin his baseball career, spurned on by a lucrative contract offer, helped the former Henry County standout make his decision.
This week, Rozier will make his debut with Greenville, the Class A affilate of the Boston Red Sox.
Rozier, who finished his high school career last season with 127 strikeouts, impressed team officials with a strong fall instructional league and spring training, he was able to bypass rookie league action and head straight the Class A leval.