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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Demeritte a proven winner

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

MINNEAPOLIS - On the evening of June 7, standout Georgia prep third baseman Travis Demeritte sent out a "tweet" from his Twitter account that sparked jubilation in Columbia, S.C., but consternation in several other cities that Southeastern Conference universities call home.

The tweet simply announced that Demeritte, the nation's top-ranked third base prospect and No. 8-ranked overall prospect from Statham, Ga., had committed to the University of South Carolina, choosing the Gamecocks over several other SEC schools that had reportedly offered a scholarship.

South Carolina has won the last two NCAA Division I College World Series championships, and is back in Omaha this weekend starting a quest for a third straight.

"I feel like that's the best fit for me," Demeritte said on Saturday when asked by Perfect Game about his choice of schools. "The campus is beautiful, the facilities are beautiful, the coaches are great and they know what they're doing with their players. They have a great class coming in and all of those factors really played into my decision."

All the winning the Gamecocks do certainly could have figured into Demeritte's decision, as well. As a member of the East Cobb Baseball organization since early in his youth, Demeritte is certainly used to winning and surrounding himself with the best ballplayers from classes either the same as his (2013) or just a little bit older or a little bit younger.

On Saturday, Demeritte was inside the Metrodome competing in the workout session and the first of three games his PG Steel team will play at the 12th annual Perfect Game National Showcase. Demeritte is one of close to 300 top prospects who will have attended this year's PG National Showcase by the time it ends its five-day run on Monday.

"It means a lot being around the best and I'm glad to know that I'm thought highly of, but I've still got to keep working," Demeritte said Saturday. "I set goals for myself and I set them high so if I do fall, I'm still somewhere I'd like to be. I won't put too much pressure on myself; I'll just let the game go how it goes."

Demeritte is a member of the PG Steel team at the National Showcase, a squad that also includes East Cobb players Cletis Avery, Josh Hart and Nathaniel Maggio. Those three guys joined Demeritte on the roster of the East Cobb Braves 17u team that competed at the 17u/18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational last week in Marietta, Ga.

"It's one of the best programs in the country and we do everything right there," Demeritte said. "There are a lot of expectations there, and you walk around proud with an East Cobb jersey on. There's a little bit of pressure involved playing there but I try not to let that get in the way of my performance."

Demeritte's history with East Cobb Baseball is a long one, especially considering he is only 17 years old. He played in three PG WWBA tournaments in 2009, including the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship with the East Cobb Astros.

In 2010, he played in the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., with the East Cobb Astros. In 2011 he returned to the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship, this time with the East Cobb Braves, and the PG WWBA World Championship again with the East Cobb Astros.

The Astros team that took to the fields at the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter last year was basically an underclass team, stocked with prospects from the classes of 2013, 2014 and even 2015. Top-50 2014 prospects Kel Johnson and Handsome Monica were on that squad.

That is just a small sampling of the 16 Perfect Game events Demeritte had attended before arriving at the PG National this week.

"It's been very beneficial playing against some other high talents," Demeritte said of his PG experiences. "When you come to a Perfect Game event you're going to play against the best, so it's been very beneficial."

Demeritte just completed a fine junior season at Winder Barrow High School, hitting .405 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs, according to reports at He also did some pitching - PG has clocked his fastball at 91 mph - posted a 1.09 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 32 innings of work.

His sophomore season was even more impressive. In the spring of 2011, he hit a team-high 10 home runs and drove in 46 runs while batting .413. During his workout session at the National Friday night, he ran a 6.87 60-yard dash and threw 89 mph across the infield.

Perfect Game ranks Demeritte as the No. 32 overall prospect in next June's 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft and the No. 11 high school senior. All 10 class of 2013 prospects ranked ahead of him are also at the PG National this week.

The 2013 amateur draft is 11 1/2 months away and is not something Demeritte spends a lot of time contemplating, even though his name and "first round" seem to find themselves in the same sentence quite often.

"I try not to think about it," Demeritte said. "That's just a little more pressure to put on myself and I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. Nothing is written in stone; first (round), second, third, whatever, nothing's guaranteed. It could all be taken away from me tomorrow."

Demeritte rests assured in the knowledge that he has done everything he can to put his body of work in the most positive light.

"I'm very satisfied with it," he said. "I know I can still keep working to get better but I'm very happy with where I am right now. I'm very proud of myself."

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