Every year, thousands of high-school and college baseball players are poured into the funnel that is the major league baseball draft, each hoping to earn the chance to pursue a dream.
On Thursday night, against improbability, two of the first nine to be selected hail from Loganville. In the first round of the draft, Loganville High outfielder Clint Frazier was selected fifth overall by the Cleveland Indians. Four picks later, the Pittsburgh Pirates took Frazier’s friend, outfielder Austin Meadows from Grayson High.
“It’s crazy,” Meadows said from his home, where dozens of family members and friends flooded the property. “It’s hard to take it in.”
Four months after Grayson football player Robert Nkemdiche signed with Mississippi as the top high school prospect in the country, Frazier and Meadows (who won a state football title with Nkemdiche in their junior year) took their turn in a remarkable run of athletic prosperity along the border of Gwinnett and Walton counties.
“There’s so much talent out there,” said Staci Meadows, Austin’s mother. “Just for Austin and Clint, in this small town of Loganville, to be two of the guys in the top 10, we just look back on it every day and realize how blessed they are.”
Both are described as five-tool players, with the ability to hit for average and power and run, field and throw. Frazier was named the Gatorade national high school player of the year earlier this week after hitting .485 with 17 home runs this season. Meadows, who hit .537 for the under-16 U.S. national team two years ago and led the team in RBIs and stolen bases, is no slouch.
“He’s a great hitter and he can steal bases, and he’s a good defender,” Frazier said. “He’s got the whole package.”
While Meadows stayed home Thursday, Frazier was at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., with family members. They were in the studio audience when commissioner Bud Selig announced the selection.
“It was the most exciting moment of my life, honestly,” Frazier said.
A cheer went up at the Meadows house. Minutes later, Selig called Meadows’ name before the Pirates called him to let him know he had been chosen.
“It got really loud,” Meadows said. “Everyone started getting their phones out, taking pictures. My mom was crying. It was great. It’s the best day of my life.”
They planned to connect by phone later in the evening.
Said Frazier, “I’m sure he’s getting as swamped as I am right now.”
They are due some considerable coin. Last year’s No. 5 pick received a $3 million signing bonus, and the No. 9 pick was given $2.6 million to sign. After signing, they’ll both head to rookie league.
A professional baseball career has “always been my dream,” Meadows said. “I’m excited to start my new career.”
At least one player from a Georgia high school or college has been selected in the top 10 of six of the past seven drafts, a streak started by former Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters in 2007.
Also Thursday, the Texas Rangers selected Winder-Barrow third baseman Travis Demeritte with the 30th pick.
No other Georgia high school or college players were taken in the first 31 selections. The draft will continue with rounds 3-10 on Friday, with the remaining 30 rounds Saturday.