Davies to make MLB debut tonight

By Anthony Rhoads

All the way through youth leagues to his days playing at Stockbridge High School, it was Kyle Davies' dream to pitch in the big leagues.

Today, the Stockbridge High School graduate is going to fulfill that life-long ambition as he is scheduled to make his Major League debut for the Atlanta Braves as the Braves play at Boston tonight at 7.

Davies is slated to pitch against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who enters the contest with a 4-2 record.

Davies was called up from the Braves' triple-A affiliate in Richmond. Davies was 2-1 with a 4.78 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 21 walks so far this season in Richmond.

"I'm really excited for him," Luella head baseball coach Andy Cooper said. "I always knew he had the potential to get there. It's great he has the opportunity. He's really excited about it."

Cooper was an assistant coach at Stockbridge when Davies played there.

"He's a testament that having the right personality and work ethic can take you far," Cooper said.

"He's the most talented pitcher I've ever coached but he's also the most disciplined and most hard-working."

Former Stockbridge head coach Bill Pate, who is now at Crisp County, will be glued to the television set tonight to watch his former player pitch against the defending World Series champions. The game will be broadcast on TBS.

"We're very excited about it," former Stockbridge head coach Bill Pate said. "I knew all the time Kyle would do that someday. I'm tickled to death for Kyle. I played a small part in the process; I'm extremely proud of Kyle."

Even though he won't be there for his debut tonight, Pate said he will definitely be there when Davies pitches in Atlanta.

"I told my wife, his first start in Atlanta, we'll be there," Pate said. "I'd love to be there in Boston but I will be there for his first start in Atlanta."

Davies is not the first player Pate has coached who has gone on to the Major League. Pate also coached brothers J.D. and Tim Drew when they were at Lowndes High School.

"I just feel that the Lord has blessed me," Pate said. "I didn't do anything special. I've been very fortunate. It's a wonderful experience to have coached some wonderful young men."

Davies went a combined 13-3 with a 2.72 ERA between Myrtle Beach, Greenville and Richmond last year. He led the Braves' minor league system with 173 strikeouts.

He started the 2004 season with the single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, going 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 14 starts.

Davies was called up to double-A Greenville on June 28 and made 11 starts there before getting promoted to Richmond on Sept. 2.

He made his triple-A debut that day with five strikeouts in a 6-1 loss to Charlotte.

During his senior year at Stockbridge in 2001, Davies signed with Georgia Tech but decided to turn pro after the Braves drafted him in the fourth round.

Davies was 21-3 his junior and senior seasons at Stockbridge and helped lead the Tigers to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA state tournament in 2001.