Tournaments : : Story
Friday, June 28, 2013

East Cobb Braves 17u rising stars

Sam Brazenas        
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. – The winner of numerous Perfect Game, WWBA and BCS tournament events, including the 2012 WWBA World Championship held in Jupiter, Fla. last October, there’s no question that the East Cobb Baseball program is one of the best.

What we try to do, especially in the older age groups, is teach them the game and get them in front of as many college and pro scouts as we can to try and further their career,” said head coach of the East Cobb Braves 17u, Kevin Baldwin.

The East Cobb Braves 17u has a large roster full of rising stars, a lot of which are already committed to Division I schools. Holding down the third and fourth hole in the team's batting order are Kel Johnson and Michael Chavis, two of the team’s top prospects.

Johnson is from Palmetto, Georgia and is home-schooled. One may think he was home-schooled because of baseball, but it was his parents’ decision that he said, “just (happened to) work out with baseball also.”

(Being home-schooled) actually is really convenient. It allows me to have more flexibility in my schedule as long as I get the work done every week,” explained Johnson, “I’m not on a set schedule so if I want to get a morning workout in or get a little extra time in the cage, it gives me the flexibility to do that.”

Johnson, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 215-pounds, is currently ranked No. 5 in the Perfect Game high school class of 2014 national rankings. He’s ranked No. 1 overall in the state of Georgia.

Kel is a great player,” said Baldwin of his star players. “(He is) a big time power hitter, great (on) defense, (has) a great arm, and (is) a great kid.”

Johnson has competed in several Perfect Game events over the years, including the 2013 National Showcase that wrapped up less than two weeks ago.

That was a great experience,” Johnson said of the National. “I had a little trouble getting my bat going (because) all the pitchers were amazing. But I did put up some new personal bests in my throwing and running. It’s always good to gauge where you’re at in your development.

It was a great experience. (I) got to play with the best in the country so that’s always good.”

Not only is Johnson great on the field, but he is also a phenomenal student maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He has committed to play at Georgia Tech, which isn’t an easy school to get in to.

I’ve always been a Tech fan,” Johnson said of his college commitment. “I grew up going to Tech games, my granddad went to Tech, and it turns out they have a great baseball program. It was just the best option for me.”

Johnson started off the 2013 WWBA 18u National Championship against the Middle Georgia Athletics going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI.

Fellow PG National Showcase participant Michael Chavis took a little longer to warm up, but managed to hit a clutch double off the center field fence in the sixth inning.

Michael plays the game really hard,” Baldwin said of Chavis. “He’s 100% all the time, a great hitter, (and) a great player."

Chavis has been playing with East Cobb since he was nine years old.

I believe it’s the best baseball program in the nation; definitely in Georgia,” said Chavis. “They do a great job developing players, getting you looked at, and they do a great job at everything overall. They (also) give you a great field to play at.”

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Chavis is from Marietta, Ga and attends Sprayberry High School. He will graduate in 2014 and is committed to play ball at Clemson.

When I was visiting all of the other colleges, (they) felt like good programs, but as soon as I stepped on the Clemson campus it felt like their program, their academics, and even their coaches were all meant just for me,” explained Chavis. “As a player and as a person they just meshed with me very well.”

Chavis is currently ranked No. 28 in the Perfect Game high school class of 2014 national rankings and No. 4 in the state of Georgia. He has competed in multiple Perfect Game events, has hit a home run in five different events this summer, and was named to the All-Tournament Team for five different Perfect Game, WWBA and BCS events a year ago: The Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational, the 16u BCS Finals, the 16u WWBA National Championship, the 17u PG World Series and the WWBA Underclass World Championship.

With a knack for coming up big playing with and against the best players in the nation at notable, national events, Chavis parlayed all of that into his lofty national ranking and an invite to the 2013 National Showcase.

That was an amazing experience,” Chavis said of his time spent at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. “It was really fun playing with and against all the best kids in the nation.

I was really honored to be a part of that and it was a really good experience seeing the great pitching, the other great hitters and great players from all over the country. It was really fun.”

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