By Doug Gorman
Former Eagle's Landing head baseball coach Blake Lyons had planned to spend the weekend in Raleigh, N.C. watching one of his former players, Matt Murton, play in a minor league baseball game.
The Chicago Cubs had other ideas for the power-hitting outfielder as Murton was called up to the big leagues from the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, the Cubs' double-A affiliate.
Murton was scheduled to join the Cubs for his major league debut this weekend in Florida against the Marlins.
Lyons was en route to the game in North Carolina when he got a call from Murton and was ecstatic for his former player even though his weekend plans were changed.
"He hit the ball in high school, in college, in the Cape Cod summer league and in the minor leagues, so I am not suprised he's getting this chance. He has worked for this a long time," said Lyons during a phone conversation Friday afternoon.
Murton grew up in Florida and competed in a baseball skills test before a Marlins game as a 10-year-old. Now, he might make his major league debut on the same field.
As a high school baseball player, Murton displayed both impressive offensive and defensive skills for Golden Eagles, but went undrafted.
Georgia Tech signed Murton and he went on to play in the College World Series for the Yellow Jackets.
"I was a little surprised he wasn't drafted, but I have talked to a lot of scouts who say playing at a school like Georgia Tech or Miami is just as good as playing in the minor leagues," Lyons said.
Henry County head coach Troy Baker was an assistant for the Warhawks during Murton's high school career and remembers the former Eagle's Landing player for his obvious skills.
"Matt's certainly deserving with his work ethic," Baker said. "His whole family, he and his dad and his brother (Luke) spent many hours at Eagle's Landing under the bleachers working on his swing. That's fantastic."
Murton got the call to report to the Cubs when they sent Corey Patterson to the minor leagues.
The former Eagle's Landing and Georgia Tech star earned his promotion by hitting .342 with eight homers and 17 doubles for the Diamond Jaxx.
Murton was drafted by the Boston Red Sox out of college, but was traded to the Cubs organization along with Nomar Garciapara.
Murton is the second player from Henry County to make it to the big leagues this season.
Former Stockbridge standout Kyle Davies is now a starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Through 10 games, Davies is 4-2. Davies and Murton were involved in some pretty good battles when Stockbridge played Eagle's Landing.
"I wish I had filmed those games," said Lyons. "It would be nice to have a record of those games now that they are both in the majors."
Jeff Francoeur, who was a standout baseball player at Parkview High School, hit a home run in his debut with the Braves Thursday night.
"That says a lot about high school baseball in Georgia," said Lyons.
Murton isn't the only member of his family with a potentially bright baseball future.
Younger brother Luke will follow in Matt's footsteps after signing with Georgia Tech last year. Luke begins his freshman year at Tech in the fall.