Draft : : State Preview
Monday, April 23, 2012

State Preview: Georgia

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.

Contributing: Ben Collman/Allan Simpson

Georgia State-by-State List
2011 Georgia Overview

Georgia Overview

Buxton Nation’s Top Prep Talent; Injuries Cloud College Crop

Appling County High outfielder Byron Buxton is considered a near lock to be among the top 2-3 picks nationally and should be joined by about 15 other in-state prospects in the first five rounds of this year’s draft.

While it is still considered a solid year for the country’s fourth-most productive talent-producing state, things could have bordered on great with a few less injuries to top players and a few more consistent performances by players on the fringe of the top 10 rounds.

Injuries to two college players, Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache and Georgia Tech righthander Luke Bard, could cost the state a pair of first-round picks. Roache, the NCAA Division I home-run leader as a sophomore, has missed most of the 2012 season after breaking his left wrist on Feb. 25, and it’s possible he may not return to game action prior to the draft. Bard’s name was beginning to be tossed around as a potential first-rounder when his fastball started reaching 97 mph with some consistency, but he left a start in early April with a strained lat muscle and was expected to be out of action for 6-8 weeks. Injuries also took a toll on the high-school crop as Ringgold High lefthander Matt Crownover, a projected third-rounder, underwent Tommy John surgery in March and is now likely headed for college at Clemson.

Roache’s Georgia Southern teammate, righthander Chris Beck, who began the 2012 season ranked among the top 10 picks nationally; along with prep righthanders Lucas Sims, Duane Underwood and Clate Schmidt give the state a strong group of power arms, although all four haven't been as consistent as scouts would like to see. How they perform over the final 6-7 weeks leading up to the draft may go a long way to determining whether any of them can crack the top round.

Most of the elite college programs in the state have experienced down seasons. Georgia and Georgia Tech were 24-16 and 24-17, respectively, entering the final month of April, but both had sub-.500 records in conference play. There were particularly high hopes for Georgia Southern with potential first-rounders Beck and Roache leading the way, but the Eagles were only 22-19 through 41 games. Each of those schools is on the bubble for post-season NCAA berths, and the distinct possibility exists that Georgia will go unrepresented this year in tournament play.

Georgia in a nutshell:

High-school athletes, premium high-velocity arms.
WEAKNESS: College standouts, injuries.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.

University of Georgia.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Alex Wood, lhp, University of Georgia.
Wood was red-shirted in 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery as a high-school senior, but was thrown into the Friday-night role for Georgia last year as an untested freshman. Predictably, he struggled at times, going 6-7, 4.41 in 93 innings. He has turned the corner this spring, posting a 5-1, 2.57 record with 69 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 67 innings. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Wood’s fastball touches 96 mph and is first-round quality. Everything could play in his favor as this is not a strong year nationally for lefthanded pitching.

WILD CARDS: Chris Beck, rhp / Victor Roache, of, Georgia Southern University.
Georgia Southern was looking forward to a banner year with two likely first-round picks in Beck and Roache, but that optimism was tempered in late February when Roache (.412-2-5, 7 BB in 6 G) broke his left wrist diving for a ball in the outfield. Not only was Roache, who led the nation with 30 home runs a year ago, potentially lost for the season, but Beck (4-4, 3.82) hasn't been as consistently dominant. Where the duo is drafted now is uncertain, though there is still first-round interest in both.

James Ramsey, of, Florida State University (Attended high school in Alpharetta).
Top 2013 Prospect: Daniel Palka, 1b, Georgia Tech.
Top 2014 Prospect: Kel Johnson, of, Palmetto (home-schooled).


Draft History:
Ron Blomberg, 1b, Druid Hills HS, Atlanta (1967, Yankees/1st round, 1st pick); Mike Ivie, c, Walker HS, Decatur (1970, Padres/1st round, 1st pick); Tim Beckham, ss, Griffin HS (2008, Rays/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Brooks Brown, rhp, University of Georgia (Diamondbacks/1st round; 34th pick).
2007 Draft: Matt Wieters, c, Georgia Tech (Orioles/1st round, 5th pick).
2008 Draft: Tim Beckham, ss, Griffin HS (Rays/1st round, 1st pick).
2009 Draft: Donavan Tate, of, Cartersville HS (Padres/1st round, 3rd pick).
2010 Draft: Delino DeShields Jr, of/2b, Woodward Academy, College Park (Astros/1st round, 8th pick).
2011 Draft: Jed Bradley, lhp, Georgia Tech (Brewers/1st round, 15th pick).


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 4/4.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 31/13.


Best Athlete:
Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS, Baxley.
Best Hitter: Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS, Baxley.
Best Power: Victor Roache, of, Georgia Southern University.
Best Speed: Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS, Baxley.
Best Defender: Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS, Baxley.
Best Velocity: Luke Bard, rhp, Georgia Tech.
Best Breaking Stuff: Lucas Sims, rhp, Brookwood HS, Lawrenceville.
Best Command: Alex Wood, lhp, University of Georgia.


GROUP ONE (Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. BYRON BUXTON, of, Appling County HS, Baxley.
Buxton has wowed scouts with his superior athletic ability and raw tools this spring, even playing against small-school competition in rural southeastern Georgia. It’s rare that scouts will drop multiple grades of 80 (highest possible score on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale) on a prospect, but Buxton is so talented that he may be one of the few. For sure, he’s an 80 runner, and tossing an 80 on his arm strength and defensive skills in center field wouldn’t be an exaggeration of those tools, either. He has plus raw bat speed, as well, although his hitting tool doesn’t presently rank among the elite players in the 2012 high-school class. Scouts believe his power potential warrants a significant grade, too, but are openly wondering why Buxton hasn’t hit a single home run this spring. Teams at the very top of the draft board have Buxton in their deliberations, and he is a very safe bet to be among the top few selections.

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