Local MLB draftees celebrate their shot at the pros

by Dave Platta

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Day two of the three-day Major League Baseball Draft gave a few area athletes a reason to celebrate on Tuesday.

Jordan Weems and several other former Columbus High Blue Devils gathered at Randy Jordan Field after Weems got the call he'd been waiting for, the one that informed him he was the third round selection of the Boston Red Sox.

"They've been the most interested of all the teams," Weems said. "I knew they were really interested in me and I was hoping that they would pull the trigger. And they did, and I'm really excited."

Joining Weems at the school that they recently earned the right to call their alma mater were pitcher Will Solomon and first baseman Charles Sheffield. They were celebrating with their former teammate, and not worrying about whether they'd get a call before the draft wrapped up.

"I want to get drafted," said Sheffield, a Georgia Tech commitment, "but I'm really excited about college next year, the next three years, what they hold in store for me and growing physically and mentally. I mean, I'd love to get drafted and see if that's an option, but right now I'm set on college so we'll see what happens the rest of the way."

Solomon was feeling nostalgic. "I've been playing with them since I was ten, and just to see how far we've gotten. Now, all my friends going off to college, playing baseball still, some getting drafted, it's wonderful. It's amazing. I got to grow up around all these guys, just great baseball players and amazing people."

During the get together, '09 grad Matt Taylor got the word that he'd been taken by the Orioles in the fifth round. His solid sophomore season at Middle Georgia earned him a ticket to the pros.

"Yeah, it was crazy," the lefthander said. "I was up here with McLendon Hill and we were throwing a little bit, and next thing you know I get the phone call, and that's that. You know, it's just awesome. It's been a lifelong dream my whole life. Just to be able to get this opportunity -- words really can't explain how I feel right now."

Weems knows how pro baseball works. His father, Rick, played in the Cardinals organization in the early 80's and older brother Chase was a sixth-round pick of the Yankees in 2007. He put what had just happened in perspective.

"It's always been my life goal. Me and my buddies always talk about 'Hey, we're going to make the major leagues.' This is just a stepping stone, you know. A lot of people think when you get drafted it's over, you know. You still got a long way to make it to the major leagues, and hopefully one day I'll be there.

The crew at CHS weren't the only local players to get drafted on day two. LaGrange outfielder Malcolm Dowell was the ninth-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers. Former Hardaway outfielder D'Andre Toney, who played at Gulf Coast CC last season, went in the 14th round to Kansas City. Former CVCC righthander Derek Varnadore was impressive enough last season at Auburn to go in the 17th round to the Marlins. Nathan Kilcrease, a former Glenwood Gator who pitched Alabama to the NCAA tournament, was the 30th round selection of the Oakland A's.

The MLB Draft winds up on Wednesday with rounds 31 through 50. It gets underway at Noon ET.