The signing deadline for MLB draft picks passed on Friday, July 18, and all the Georgia Bulldogs on the 2014 baseball roster that were drafted came to terms with the teams that drafted them.
Nelson Ward, the 12th round pick of the Seattle Mariners, was a co-captain for the Bulldogs in his junior year. The Marietta, Ga. native had a team-high 34 RBI this year, and started at shortstop this past year, and second base in his first two years. Ward played in 149 games with 123 starts over his 3-year career at UGA with a .301 average, 21 doubles, 7 triples, 4 home runs and 66 RBI.
Jarrett Brown, from Conyers, Ga., was also selected by the Seattle Mariners, in the 22nd round. The junior LHP concluded his career in Athens with a 1-1 record, 4.54 ERA in 60 appearances, including 1 start. He pitched 67.1 innings with 72 hits allowed, 38 walks and 38 strikeouts.
Both Ward and Brown signed with the Mariners soon after the draft. Ward hit a grand slam in his second-ever professional at bat, and was quickly promoted from the Pulaski Mariners, the rookie league team, to the short season Class A team in Everett, Wash. He is hitting .253 in 24 games with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HRs and 13 RBI. Brown is with the rookie league Pulaski team, and has had an unimpressive start, with a 1-1 record over 10.1 IP, and has given up 11 hits and 8 walks, while striking out 6.
Hunter Cole agreed to terms with the San Francisco Giants last Thursday. The Moore, S.C. native was selected in the 26th round. A 3-year starter in the outfield and at third base, Cole finished his career at UGA with 157 games played, 155 starts, a .300 avg, 14 HRs, 36 doubles and 87 RBI. He hit a team-best .319 this year in 53 games.
Commitments to UGA
Two of the three high school seniors who made commitments to the Bulldogs also came to terms with the teams that picked them over the last month. RHP Spencer Adams, selected in the second round by the Chicago White Sox, received a signing bonus of $1,282,700 from the White Sox on June 9. Adams, from White County, Ga., was projected to go as high as the 22nd overall pick.
OF Michael Gettys, also selected in the second round, received a $1.3 million signing bonus from the San Diego Padres on June 12. The right-handed batter from Gainesville, Ga. has been lauded for his speed, throwing accuracy, but scouts expressed concern about his plate presence.
A third commitment to the Bulldogs, Bo Tucker, was selected in the 38th round by the Cincinnati Reds. The Rome High School standout is what every MLB team wants: a left-handed pitcher, but he still wants to pitch at Georgia. With the low draft status, I doubt he would have gotten much of a bonus anyway.
Georgia is a hot state for baseball recruiting, with Atlanta having a great youth athletic base, and the prowess of the East Cobb youth leagues. UGA has to battle not only its collegiate counterparts like FSU, Georgia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina and even Kennesaw State and Georgia Southern, but also the MLB teams that can sign players to hefty bonuses if they draft them in the top rounds.
RHP and OF Sean McLaughlin was the 38th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2012 MLB draft (2nd round), but he opted to go to college instead and fulfilled his commitment to the University of Georgia. As far as I can tell, McLaughlin is the highest draft pick out of high school that decided to go to Georgia. He is one of the players I am most looking forward to seeing during fall ball and when the regular season starts. His arm was missed in 2014 on the mound, but he was able to DH and play some outfield after he experienced consistent soreness in his pitching arm.
In other Diamond Dawg news, Jess Posey will not be returning to the squad in the fall. The sophomore from Lee County played in 75 games with 49 starts (playing second base, third base and DH) with a .226 average, three HRs and 32 RBI. He is the younger brother of former FSU star and current San Francisco Giants catcher, Buster Posey.
The Bulldogs fall ball dates and regular season schedule have not been released yet. Stay tuned for updates!