Jaguar Baseball Alumni News 2011 Region 17 Champion

June 10, 2013

Bragg selected by Oakland A’s; two Jaguar alumni also drafted

SEPTEMBER UPDATE: SAM BRAGG had an excellent summer pitching in the minor leagues. He played on three teams (in Arizona, Vermont and Wisconsin), rising to the Class A Midwest League, where he pitched for the Beloit Snappers. His 2013 minor league totals: Appeared in 19 games, 29 innings, 1-2 record, 1.24 earned run average (outstanding), 37 strikeouts (outstanding), 11 walks.
ALAN BUSENITZ also had a good summer pitching for the Orem Owlz (Utah) in the Rookie Pioneer League. His 2013 Orem Owlz statistics: Appeared in 21 games, 38 2/3 innings, 5-2 record, 2.33 ERA, one save, 27 strikeouts, four walks (outstanding).

Sam Bragg is packing his glove and cleats and going west.

A standout starter for the Georgia Perimeter College Jaguars the past two seasons, Bragg was selected by the Oakland Athletics Friday in the MLB Amateur Draft.

Sam Bragg. Photo/Donnie Lewis

Oakland picked Bragg in the 18th round of the draft, the 551st selection overall. There were 1,216 players drafted in 40 rounds.

Also taken in the draft were two former Jaguars, Alan Busenitz and Christopher Madera. The Los Angeles Angels selected Busenitz, a GPC pitcher in 2009 and 2010, and the Chicago Cubs tapped Madera, who played center field in 2012.

This spring Bragg led the conference, Region 17 of the NJCAA, in strikeouts with 91. He earned a spot on the all-region first team with a 7-4 record, including two shutouts, and an earned run average of 1.64, third in the league.

A right-hander with a fastball in the 90s and an excellent changeup, he exhibited pinpoint control, walking only 47 in 129 2/3 innings over two seasons. The Marietta native and Wheeler High alumnus struck out 54 in 47 1/3 innings in 2012. Sam’s 2013 stats. Sam’s 2012 stats.

Bragg was pivotal as GPC won the 2013 regular-season championship of Region 17, also known as the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association. In Brett Campbell’s first year as head coach, the Jaguars finished atop the standings with a 25-6 record and ended with a 36-21 overall mark. They were 43-16 in Bragg’s freshman season.

“GPC was a great program and very helpful getting me one step closer to making my dream a reality,” Bragg said. “Because of Coach Campbell, I feel I am very well prepared for the professional route. He really helps players understand and appreciate the game with his knowledge and professional experience.”

A high point of Bragg’s college career came on April 21 in a 2-1 win over West Georgia Tech. The first two batters he faced reached on a walk and a hit. The leadoff man scored on a sacrifice fly, but after the first two batters, Bragg recorded 27 straight outs—the equivalent of a perfect game. Read the game story.

Alan Busenitz

Christopher Madera

A teammate of Bragg’s in 2012, Madera hit .347 for the Jaguars with 33 runs batted in. He displayed considerable power—15 doubles, two triples and one home run.

Transferring to Northwest Florida State College for his sophomore season, Madera posted similar power stats this spring and similarly had 31 RBIs and a .341 average.

Madera, a native of Dominican Republic who throws and bat right-handed, came to GPC from Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connecticut. He was selected in the 33rd round by the Cubs, No. 978 overall.

Busenitz was named to the All-Region 17 first team in 2010, his sophomore season at GPC. Posting a 6-1 record and a 2.67 ERA, he also made the East Central District all-star team, which includes all Georgia and Tennessee junior college teams.

In 2009 Busenitz, a right-hander who hails from Athens and Athens Christian School, had a 1-3 record as the Jaguars won the regular-season conference championship. Over the two seasons, he consistently averaged a strikeout per inning, fanning 92 batters in 86 1/3 innings. He was the 757 overall pick, selected in the 25th round by the Angels.

As a redshirt senior this spring at Kennesaw State University, Busenitz was a steady reliever with a 2.83 ERA, striking out 39 in 35 innings. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the Owls’ 7-2 loss to East Tennessee in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship game.

Busenitz was the 757 overall pick, selected in the 25th round by the Angels.

Also selected in the draft from Region 17 were Blake Shouse, Middle Georgia State College pitcher and infielder (Colorado Rockies); Javier Reynosa, Middle Georgia pitcher (Kansas City Royals); Christopher Long, Darton State College pitcher (San Diego Padres); Tylor Bashlor, South Georgia State College pitcher (New York Mets); and Kaleb Holbrook, South Georgia catcher (Los Angles Dodgers).

Middle Georgia alumnus Sam Agnew-Wieland, playing his junior year at Appalachian State (NC), was drafted by the New York Yankees. Bragg and Agnew-Wieland were teammates at Wheeler High under coach Dave McDonald, and another pitcher from their team, Mississippi State’s Evan Mitchell, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds. Read more on the Wheeler trio.

Listed at 6-feet-one-inch and 190 pounds, Bragg leaves Tuesday for Arizona, where the Athletics’ rookie team plays in the Arizona League. He emphasized that Georgia Perimeter offers excellent opportunity, instruction and exposure to help a player get to the next level.

“You also meet a lot of great friends and make lasting memories along the way,” he added.

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July 1, 2011

Straus goes pro, leads parade of ex-Jaguars headed to next level

At least 11 players who recently finished their careers at Georgia Perimeter College are headed to the next levels of baseball, including Kenny Straus, who recently signed with the Seattle Mariners.

Kenny Straus

Straus, an all-region outfielder who hit .350 with six home runs, was selected by the Mariners in the 26th round of the amateur draft. He was assigned to the Pulaski, Va., club in the rookie-level Appalachian League, becoming the eighth ex-Jaguar currently in the pros.

The other 10 players are headed to four-year schools. They are:

Kendall Lacey

• Outfielder Kendall Lacey. The all-region selection has signed with Grambling State University in Louisiana after hitting .363 and leading the Jaguars in RBIs with 42.

• Catcher Scott Sarratt played two seasons at GPC and was region Defensive Player of the Year and the national Rawlings Gold Glove award winner at his position after his error-free sophomore year. He is going to Georgia State.

• Pitcher Trevor Walch, a righthander who finished 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 62 innings, was an early signee with Southern Mississippi University.

• First baseman Jamie McMillan also signed early, with Mercer University of Macon. He was second team all-region his freshman season and came back in 2011 to hit .322 and drive in 30 runs.

Trevor Walch

• Outfielder T.D. Davis is headed to Georgia Southern after spending two seasons as the Jaguars’ regular left fielder. He was first team all-region in 2010.

• Pitcher Kevin Kyle, a lefthander, was an early signee with Kennesaw State University. His 2011 season was cut short by an injury as he finished 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA.

• Pitcher James Connell, who became the Jaguars’ closer as the season wore on, is also headed to Kennesaw State. The righthander finished with a 2.45 ERA.

• Outfielder/infielder/pitcher LeAndre Davis played two seasons with GPC at several positions, ending up as the starting center fielder on the 2011 team. The two-time draftee by the Minnesota Twins is on his way to Southern Polytechnic State University, an NAIA school in Marietta.

Kevin Kyle

• Third baseman Travis Tarleton, used sparingly during his freshman season at GPC, is going to Atlanta Christian College, which is changing its name to Point University on July 1 and joining the NAIA.

• Pitcher Jarius Rhodes. The righthander is taking his lively fastball to Shorter University, an NAIA school in Rome. He was 2-2 in 2010, during which he was brilliant in stretches, but did not pitch for GPC in 2011.

The 11 players from the Jaguars’ 2011 team join 19 who moved up the year before and have at least one year of collegiate eligibility remaining. Some highlights on their 2011 seasons:

• Second baseman Hunter Pope led Savannah College of Art and Design with a .329 average and was all-league in the Sun Conference, an NAIA league. This summer, he has already been Player of the Week in the Valley Baseball League, a wood-bat summer circuit in Virginia.

• Righthander Jake Dyer became the closer at Georgia State, getting eight saves with a 3-0 record and an ERA of 1.67.

• Righthander Bryan Benzor, who went to Georgia after his freshman season at GPC, emerged down the stretch as a key setup man in the Bulldogs’ bullpen. He was 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA, with one of the wins coming against Georgia Tech at Turner Field.

• Righthander Alan Busenitz was in the bullpen at Kennesaw State, going 2-2 with a 6.83 ERA.

• Righthander Rob Crosby made 17 appearances for Augusta State with a 3.14 ERA.

• Righthander Jared Slaven was 4-4 with a 4.39 ERA for West Georgia, striking out 47 in 55 1/3 innings and winning Player of the Week in the Gulf South Conference, NCAA Division II.

• Outfielder Will Howard started 35 games for Kennesaw State.

• Catcher/third baseman Blake McCullers hit .283 for Shorter University, an NAIA school, and finished second on the team was 43 RBIs.

• Shortstop Dadynoel Lorenzo hit .305 for Shorter.

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June 14, 2011

Sarratt wins national Rawlings Gold Glove Award

It turns out that Scott Sarratt’s good work in the field was noted far beyond the borders of the state.

Scott Sarratt committed no errors in 312 chances.

The Georgia Perimeter College Jaguars’ catcher was the region Defensive Player of the Year, and now he has been awarded the national Rawlings Gold Glove Award at his position.

A Gold Glove is the top national fielding award a player can earn at his postion. It means Sarratt is considered the best fielding catcher among the member colleges of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

The sophomore from Statesboro High School handled 312 chances this season without committing an error. As the Jaguars’ frontline catcher, he played in 42 games and started 35.

Sarratt will be headed to NCAA Division I to play at Georgia State, where he would be reunited with 2010 GPC battery mates Brandon Bast and Jake Dyer, the Panthers’ closer.

Another Jaguar teammate, catcher Blake McCullers, has been playing outfield for Georgia State. McCullers and Sarratt took turns behind the plate during GPC’s 2010 season, until McCullers began playing third base regularly.

Sarratt’s 2011 teammate, outfielder Kenny Straus, has signed with Georgia State but is also a Seattle Mariners draftee.

Another player from the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association, pitcher Brice Baker of South Georgia College, also made the Rawlings Gold Glove team.

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June 13, 2011

Former Jaguar Cornwell signs with Mariners

Ben Cornwell, who pitched briefly for Georgia Perimeter College in 2009, became the seventh former Jaguar currently in professional baseball when he signed with the Seattle Mariners as an undrafted free agent.

Ben Cornwell becomes the seventh former Jaguar currently playing professional baseball.

Cornwell has undergone Tommy John surgery since an outstanding career at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta. He made only three appearances for Virginia Tech in 2008 and two for GPC in 2009. He was granted a medical redshirt for his year with the Jaguars.

In two seasons at Georgia, the 6-foot-3 righthander made seven starts among his 28 appearances and was 2-4 with an 8.54 ERA in 45 1/3 innings.

Of the other six former Jaguars in the pros, only Marlon Byrd is in the major leagues. The star center fielder of the Chicago Cubs is on the disabled list after being hit in the face by a pitch. Byrd was an all-region center fielder for the Jaguars in 1999.

The other ex-Jaguars are: Nick Green, who is playing shortstop for the Norfolk Tides, the Baltimore Orioles’ Class AAA affiliate. Green was an All-American for GPC in 1999 and a teammate of Byrd. He has 1,000 career major league at-bats in six seasons with seven clubs after getting his start with the Atlanta Braves.

Robby Hammock, after a couple of seasons in the minors with other organizations, is back with the Arizona Diamondbacks, catching for their AAA affiliate in Reno, Nev. He has appeared in 11 games this season and is on the disabled list. He last appeared in the majors in 2008 and was all-region at GPC in 1996 and 1997.

Anthony Carter, a right-handed pitcher drafted out of GPC in 2005, is in the bullpen for the Charlotte Knights, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. He won his promotion to AAA with an all-star performance in the Southern League, where he saved 22 games last season.

Robby Hefflinger, who starred for the Jaguars in 2009 and was drafted in the seventh round by the Braves, is with the club’s low Class A affiliate in Rome after starting the season at the advanced level in Lynchburg, Va. He is the R-Braves’ regular left fielder.

Nathan Fawbush, a right-handed pitcher who played for the Jaguars in 2010, is at the rookie level in the organization of the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the 21st round last season. He made only three appearances in the Gulf Coast League before sustaining an injury. His 2011 club has not been announced.

Another potential Jaguar in the pros is outfielder Kenny Straus of the 2011 team, taken in the 26th round by the Mariners. He has signed to attend Georgia State.

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June 7, 2011

Mariners draft Kenny Straus in 26th round

Kenny Straus, a sophomore outfielder and designated hitter for Georgia Perimeter College, was taken by the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Kenny Straus had 26 extra-base hits.

Straus, a left-handed hitter, finished with a .350 average, six homers and 39 runs batted in, near the team lead in all three categories despite missing 2 1/2 weeks with a contusion caused by fouling a ball off his calf. He led the Jaguars in doubles (17) and triples (three).

His performance won him first team all-region honors in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.

Straus, who stands 6 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds, played in high school at Whitefield Academy in Atlanta and spent his freshman season at Duke before transferring to GPC. If he doesn’t go pro, he is signed to play next season for Georgia State.

The Mariners made him the 783rd player selected in the draft, after three others from the GCAA, also known as Region 17 of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

All three are from Middle Georgia. Pitcher Matt Taylor was taken 155th by the Baltimore Orioles, center fielder Patrick Smith 437th by the Detroit Tigers and pitcher Demondre Arnold 777th by the San Francisco Giants.

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September 8, 2010

Jaguars from 2010 moving up to next level

Turnover and rebuilding are facts of life in junior college baseball. So as the fall scrimmage season approaches, the Georgia Perimeter College Jaguars say farewell to 19 players who have announced plans to play for other teams next season.

Bryan Benzor is to pitch for UGA.

The 2010 Jaguars went 33-17, tied for third place in Region 17 of the NJCAA. Here’s where the rebuilding part comes in—among the departing are pitchers who accounted for 27 of those 33 victories.

At the end of the season, the conference rotation consisted of righthanders Alan Busenitz (6-1, 2.67 earned run average in the regular season), Jake Dyer (6-4, 4.08) and Bryan Benzor (2-1, 3.77). They are headed to Kennesaw State, Georgia State and Georgia, respectively.

The Jaguars also are losing lefthander Drew Johnson (4-2, 3.98) to Georgia Southern.

The opening day starter, righthander Nathan Fawbush (4-2, 3.69), was the 21st-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins, the 645th player taken. He signed and was assigned to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Reliever Rob Crosby (4-0, 3.78) is headed to Augusta State. Brandon Bast (1-2, 6.19) moves on to Georgia State, and Jared Slaven (limited to four appearances by injury) is going to West Georgia. All are righthanders.

In the field, the Jaguars are losing:

· Catcher/third baseman Blake McCullers (.385, 4 homers, 47 runs batted in) to Georgia State.

Blake McCullers is headed to Georgia State.

· Shortstop Dadynoel Lorenzo (.365, 3, 30) to Shorter.

· Outfielder Patrick Henry (.352, 1, 30) to Georgia State.

· Infielder/DH Hunter Pope (.350, 0, 25) to Savannah College of Art and Design.

· Outfielder Will Howard (.293, 2, 28) to Kennesaw State.

· Outfielder Drew Dentler (.269, 0, 15) to Southern Poly.

· Catcher John Doolittle (.200, 1, 7) to West Georgia.

· Infielder Blake Hudson (.200, 0, 6) to West Georgia.

Three players who didn’t appear with the Jaguars in 2010—pitchers Matt Hill and Russ Cooper and first baseman Brac Barton—also are moving on.

Hill, a lefthander, was the 33rd-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers. Barton is headed for Carson Newman, Cooper to Savannah State.

The 2010 Jaguars also had a third pro draftee—LeAndre Davis, who played shortstop, third base and a little in the outfield. The Twins took him in the 49th round, but he has said he’ll be returning to GSU.

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July 14, 2010

Former Jaguar Marlon Byrd a hero in National League All-Star victory

In a video interview before Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Marlon Byrd said, “I look around and see all of these big dogs,” referring to the outstanding players who regularly appear in the annual summer classic.

Marlon Byrd

Then Byrd, the Chicago Cubs’ center fielder who played for Georgia Perimeter College in 1999, took the field and proved he’s a big dog, too.

His head’s-up fielding, batting and base-running were keys to the National League’s 3-1 victory over the American League in Anaheim, Calif., the NL’s first All-Star triumph since 1996.

With the AL leading 1-0 in the seventh inning, Byrd came to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs. Chicago White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton threw two quick strikes to put him in a deep hole.

But Byrd fought back with a quality at-bat, fouling off pitches, working a full count and finally drawing a walk. That loaded the bases for Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann.

McCann hooked a double into the right field corner, and Byrd sped around the bases from first to put the Nationals on top 3-1.

But the Americans threatened in the ninth. With one out and David Ortiz on first base, John Buck hit a soft fly to right-center field. Byrd sprinted from center field, threatening to make the catch, so Oriz had to hesitate between first and second base, waiting for the catch or the bounce.

Byrd played the bounce, spun, threw and forced out Ortiz at second base. Instead of having runners on first and second with one out, the AL had only Buck on first and two outs. It was the defensive play of the game. The next batter made the final out.

At Georgia Perimeter, Byrd, from Marietta and Sprayberry High School, played on the exceptional 1999 team coached by Tom Cantrell. He earned a spot on the All-Region 17 squad and was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of the season. This is his ninth season in the Major Leagues.

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July 13, 2010

GPC Baseball Alumnus Byrd on NL All-Star team

Marlon Byrd, who played center field for the Georgia Perimeter College Jaguars in 1999, has achieved a distinction only a small percentage of baseball players achieve. The Chicago Cubs center fielder will be on the National League roster for tonight’s All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif.

In his ninth season in the majors, Byrd, 32, made the All-Stars through voting by the players. Tonight’s game, the 81st Major League All-Star Game, will begin at 8 p.m., EDT and will be broadcast on FOX TV.

It’s not the first time Georgia Perimeter has had an alumnus named to a Major League All-Star team. Infielder Mike Sharperson, who played for the college in 1980-81 when it was DeKalb College, served on the NL All-Star team in 1992, the only representative for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Byrd leads the Cubs in batting average (.317), hits (105), doubles (27) and total bases (159). He has 40 runs batted in and nine home runs. For a short while in June, he led the National League in hitting with an average over .333.

When Byrd, a Marietta native, graduated from Sprayberry High School in 1995, he was heavily recruited in both football and baseball. He chose a baseball scholarship at Georgia Tech, but suffered a career-threatening leg injury.

Following three operations to avoid paralysis in the nerves, he recuperated enough to get back on the baseball field but his career at Georgia Tech was finished.

Georgia Perimeter’s head coach at the time, Tom Cantrell, gave him a second chance, and Byrd made the most of it. He had a stellar season in center field for the Jaguars in 1999, making the NJCAA All-Region 17 first team.

“He came in overweight and worked his tail off,” Cantrell said. “He played the game so aggressively. Hated to lose. He wanted to be the best player he could be.”

Selected in the 10th round of the 1999 MLB amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, Byrd made his Major League debut in September 2002. In 2003 he hit .303 for the Phillies and finished fourth in the league’s Rookie of the Year balloting.

After playing two seasons with the Washington Nationals and three with the Texas Rangers, he landed a three-year, $15 million contract with Chicago last winter.

A teammate on that 1999 Jaguar team, all-region and All-American Nick Green, also made the big leagues, playing for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, among others.

Along with Byrd and Green, other standouts for the 1999 Jaguars were all-region players Sean Pittman; Nick Deckon; Green’s twin brother, Kevin, and All-America Andy Hussion.

“It was truly special,” Pittman said. “All of us got along, we loved playing baseball together, and we enjoyed coming to the park every day ready to compete.”

Byrd has a second connection to Georgia Perimeter—his uncle, Al Byrd, is a longstanding member and former chairman of the GPC Foundation Board.

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June 22, 2010

Former GPC star Hefflinger on steady RBI pace for Rome Braves

Despite missing the first three weeks of the season with an illness, former Georgia Perimeter College star Robby Hefflinger has become an offensive force for the Rome Braves in his first taste of Class A ball.

Hefflinger went into the South Atlantic League all-star break with 38 runs batted in, on a pace to drive in more than 90 for the season. His total was near the top in the Atlanta Braves’ organization.

His batting average at the break was .267, with 16 doubles and two home runs.

In his eighth game at Rome, on May 6, Hefflinger made a splash with the fans, hitting a grand slam in a 9-5 victory over Hagerstown. A run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly gave him 6 RBIs for the day.

He had 4 RBIs in a home game against Charleston, S.C., started on May 16 and completed the next day.

Another thing that has impressed the Rome fans: his .384 average in home games.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound right fielder was the Braves’ seventh-round draft choice in 2009, the 208th player picked overall. He spent last season with the Danville Braves of the rookie-level Appalachian League, hitting .242 with seven homers and 37 RBIs.

At GPC before the draft, Hefflinger mostly played right field and pitched, but the Gainesville High School grad also caught and played first base. He made the all-region, all-district and all-tournament teams, catching the Braves’ eye with a .324 average and 11 home runs, several of the tape-measure variety.

“He has what they call ‘light-tower power,’” GPC coach Danny Blue said at the time. “He can hit the ball out of the ballpark on any pitch and to any place in the park.”

Hefflinger was 7-0 as a pitcher with a 2.68 earned run average as the Jaguars won the regular-season championship in Region 17. He struck out 60 in 57 innings.

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June 15, 2010

Former Jaguar a leading hitter in National League

For a few days former Georgia Perimeter College outfielder Marlon Byrd led the National League in hitting.

Marlon Byrd

Byrd, playing center field this season for the Chicago Cubs, was hitting .333 in mid-June, with 9 home runs, 34 RBIs, 34 runs and 4 stolen bases. A few days earlier, his .337 batting average was at the top of the league.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said, as quoted on a baseball web site, ’He’s been our best hitter, consistently all year. Marlon has been swinging it really well. I think he had one little dry spell for a week or so, and outside of that, he’s been a model of consistency.”

A two-sport standout who was recruited by Georgia Tech out of Sprayberry High School, Byrd was torn between football and baseball. At Tech he suffered a career-threatening leg injury but got a second chance at Georgia Perimeter.

He had an outstanding season in center field for the Jaguars in 1999 and was selected to the All-Region 17 first team.

The Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the 10th round of the 1999 MLB amateur draft. He made his Major League debut with the Phillies in September 2002.

Byrd played two seasons with the Washington Nationals and had three successful seasons with the Texas Rangers before being traded to the Cubs last winter. He’s batted in the fifth, fourth and third spots for Chicago, and is averaging.283 in nine seasons in the major leagues.

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June 9, 2010

Jaguars selected in MLB draft

The Minnesota Twins selected Georgia Perimeter College sophomore pitcher Nathan Fawbush Tuesday in the 21st round of the Major League amateur draft. On Wednesday they picked freshman infielder LeAndre Davis.

Nathan Fawbush

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers selected left-hander Matt Hill, who pitched for GPC in fall scrimmage games but was academically ineligible for the regular season this spring.

Fawbush, a 6-foot-7, 193-pound right-hander from McDonough and Union Grove High School, was pick No. 645 on the second day of the draft.

Pitching 63 1/3 innings, Fawbush posted a 4-2 record and a 4.55 earned run average for GPC this spring. He struck out 60 and walked 31, allowing 32 earned runs against a strong hitting conference.

Fawbush transferred to Georgia Perimeter from Walters State Community College (Tenn.), where he had compiled a 7-0 record in his freshman season. His fastball was clocked this spring in the low 90s and he throws an excellent curveball.

“Everybody likes his potential. He’s tall and has good arm strength. You can’t coach someone to be 6-7,” said GPC head coach Danny Blue.

“He was a big part of our program, part of the staff that had the lowest ERA in the conference.”

For the second straight year, GPC’s pitching staff led the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA Region 17) with a team ERA of 4.59. The Jaguars finished with a 36-19 record, after losing a three-game series to Middle Georgia College in the region tournament semifinals.

LeAndre Davis

The Twins drafted Davis for a second time—they chose him in the 13th round last season after his senior year in high school. A 5-foot-10, 160 lb. all-state selection from Smyrna and Campbell High, Davis has an exceptional arm and led the Jaguars during the postseason with a .462 batting average.

“LeAndre really turned it around the last three weeks of the season,” said GPC hitting coach Stewart Bailey. “He started hitting the ball up the middle more, and made some unbelievable plays at third base, and that really helped his confidence in the field and at the dish.”

Blue said, “LeAndre and Nathan did a good job for us, and we’re proud they got drafted.”

Like Fawbush, Hill was a transfer to GPC—he pitched his freshman year at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in 2008.

The lefty posted a 3.14 ERA in 17 innings for the pirates and beat the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Pensacola Junior College, early in the season. He throws a fastball in the high 80s and low 90s.

“He possesses a power arm and slider that pro scouts fall in love with,” Bailey said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t play for us this spring, but he has a chance now to play pro ball.”

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May 6, 2010

Hefflinger hits grand slam for Rome Braves

Robby Hefflinger, who led Georgia Perimeter College to the Region 17 regular-season championship last season, had his biggest day as a pro Thursday, hitting a grand slam as the Rome Braves beat Hagerstown 9-5 at home.

robbyhefflinger

Hefflinger, playing only his eighth game for Rome in the Class A South Atlantic League, also had a run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly, giving him six RBIs. The right fielder joined the club late after being held back in extended spring training while recovering from an illness.

The R-Braves had been no-hit for four innings before four singles, a hit batsman and a walk produced two runs. Hefflinger’s grand slam, his first homer of the season, gave them a 6-4 lead. The game was played before 3,328 fans.

Hefflinger, who stands 6 feet 5 and weighs 235 pounds, was the Atlanta Braves’ seventh-round pick in last summer’s amateur draft, the 208th player chosen overall. He spent the 2009 season in the rookie-level Appalachian League with the Danville (Va.) Braves, hitting .242 with seven homers and 37 RBIs. He missed some time with a hand injury sustained while running into the fence in right field.

At GPC last season, Hefflinger mostly pitched and played right field, but also saw time at first base and catcher. He hit .324 with 11 home runs while making the all-region, all-district and all-tournament teams. As a pitcher, he was 7-0 with a 2.68 earned run average.

Daily coverage of Hefflinger and the rest of the Rome Braves is available at www.romebraves.com.

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March 15, 2010

Jaguar Journal: Big Braves debut for Hefflinger

Jaguar baseball alumni Robby Hefflinger made his spring training debut for the Atlanta Braves Sunday, and it was a good one.

Hefflinger, in only his second year as a pro, hit an RBI pinch-hit single in the sixth inning to give the Braves their last run in an 8-5 loss to Houston at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla.

With runners on first and second base, Hefflinger faced Roy Corcoran, a Class AAA pitcher for the Astros. He fell behind 0-2 and then worked a full count, laying off two tempting curve balls. Then he rapped an outside corner pitch to right field to drive in Eric Duncan.

Hefflinger played his rookie season with the Danville Braves after being drafted last June. He was instrumental in Georgia Perimeter’s 42-16 turnaround season last spring, leading the team with 11 home runs and posting a 7-0 record on the mound.

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June 11, 2009

Braves sign Jaguars’ Hefflinger

Robby Hefflinger, a Georgia Perimeter College freshman with “light-tower power” signed a baseball contract with the Atlanta Braves Wednesday at Turner Field.

Robby Hefflinger excelled at the plate and on the mound for the Jaguars.

The Braves had selected Hefflinger as an outfielder Tuesday in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft. He was the 208th overall pick in the draft, considered a high selection that commands a healthy signing bonus.

An all-around talent, Hefflinger pitched, played right field and first base and caught a couple of games for the Jaguars. He hit .324 during the season with 11 home runs, 12 doubles and 3 triples.

“He has what they call ‘light-tower power,’” said Georgia Perimeter head coach Danny Blue. “He can hit the ball out of the ball park on any pitch and to any place in the park.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Braves scouting director Roy Clark as saying, “He’s our power bat we got in the early rounds.” On the mound Hefflinger pitched a seven-inning no-hitter and finished 7-0 with a 2.68 earned run average. He struck out 60 and walked 19 in 57 innings pitched.

“Robby was a leader for us with his actions and attitude toward the game of baseball,” Blue said. “Several times he said, ‘Give me the ball and I’ll get them out.’ He’s a gamer.”

Hefflinger was a major contributor in a turnaround season for the GPC baseball program, Blue’s third year at the helm. The Jaguars won the NJCAA Region 17 (GJCAA) regular-season championship, which was the college’s first baseball title this decade. However, they fell to Middle Georgia College in the region tournament championship game, finishing the season with a 42-16 record.

Hefflinger was selected to the NJCAA East-Central All-District team (Tennessee and Georgia), the All-Region 17 first team and the region All-Tournament team.

Measuring 6-feet-five-inches and weighing 235 pounds, Hefflinger bats right and throws right. He hails from Gainesville High, Gainesville, Ga., where he was All-State and All-Region in 2008 and a football captain.

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