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Gaines likely to put pro dreams on hold

Photo by Brian Paglia
Former Luella shortstop Julius Gaines will decide next month if he will sign a contract with the Boston Red Sox or attend Florida International University to play baseball.

Photo by Brian Paglia Former Luella shortstop Julius Gaines will decide next month if he will sign a contract with the Boston Red Sox or attend Florida International University to play baseball.

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

With the first round of his negotiations not "looking like I wanted" it to be, former Luella High shortstop Julius Gaines is leaning towards attending college instead of immediately pursuing a professional career.

Taken by the Boston with the 982nd pick in last month's draft, Gaines had hoped to impress Red Sox officials enough through summer league games to land an enticing contract to forgo college. Last

November, he signed a college scholarship with Florida International University, but was rated high by pro scouts entering his final season at Luella.

He was the first player at the Henry County school to be drafted.

"It is looking like I will go to FIU," Gaines said Friday afternoon.

Late Thursday, Gaines' Facebook status implied that he was going to attend FIU. His status read: "bouta b n miami for 3 years." If he decides to attend FIU, Gaines would be eligible for the professional draft in three years.

Last week, he had contract talks with the Red Sox, but said he didn't get the offer he was hoping for. The draft signing period ends on Aug. 15.

If Gaines doesn't sign a deal before the deadline, he will start classes on Aug. 22.

"I'm a little disappointed at it (contract), but I want to see what happens the next time," he said. "I have a chance to improve my draft status. It definitely puts a chip on your shoulder. It puts things more in perspective. I'm going to do what I have to do to reach my goal."

Since being drafted, Gaines has played for the Fayetteville-based Home Plate Chukars of the Sunbelt League, a metro Atlanta wooden bat league composed of mostly college players. In seven games, Gaines hit .240 with two RBIs while missing several games with a groin injury.

"It went pretty well," he said of the league.

After starting his final high school season with a shoulder injury, Gaines bounced back to hit .391 with seven doubles, three triples and two home runs with 18 RBIs in helping the Lions reach the Class AAAAA quarterfinals.

He is more known for his fielding skills than his bat.

In the past, there have been some hidden gems in the late rounds of the baseball draft. One of the most recognizable late-round draftees was former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who went on to have an all-star career. In 1988, Piazza went with the 1,390th pick.