Kennesaw State pitcher Stephen Janas, who grew up in Marietta hoping one day to become the next Greg Maddux, had one fantasy fulfilled when he was selected by the Braves in the sixth round of last week’s amateur baseball draft.
Janas completed another when he signed with the Braves on Sunday.
Dreams do come true.
“I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve said those words in these last few days,” Janas said. He declined to reveal his contact terms, other than to say the Braves took “good care of” him. The assigned value for the Braves’ sixth-round pick was $210,200, according to Baseball America.
“It is pretty cool that I went to the Braves, watching (Greg) Maddux, (John) Smoltz and (Tom) Glavine pitch and trying to emulate them,” he said.
Coming off Tommy John surgery in 2012, Janas wasn’t a heralded prospect as the season began. But he went 9-1 and set a Atlantic Sun Conference record for ERA (1.14).
“I just tried to prove everybody wrong,” he said.
A former standout at Lassiter High School, Janas worked out for the Braves at Turner Field last week. He said the team told him that they wanted to sign him. Had they not selected him, he said he likely would have been picked by the Texas Rangers or Boston Red Sox in the seventh round.
“When I spoke to him the morning of the draft, he was really excited, but he was really excited because of the Braves,” Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said. “To be selected is one thing. To be selected by the Braves is icing on the cake.”
Janas is supposed to fly to Orlando on Tuesday where he will undergo some physical exams for the Braves. He will then report to Danville, Va., for the Rookie League season, where he is being slotted as a starter.
Janas has a solid two-seam fastball that he can work around the strike zone, something he watched Maddux do. He also has a change-up and breaking ball that he hopes to improve. Sansing said Janas’ ability to locate his fastball is one reason that he has a future as a pro.
“He could mix and put up his fastball wherever he needed it,” Sansing said.
At 6 feet 5 and 190 pounds, Janas is thin but has a frame that will should allow him to add muscle for more endurance for the longer pro season. Sansing said Janas gained 25 pounds in his three years at Kennesaw and he believes that physical potential is another reasons the Braves drafted him.
“They see someone who can continue to get stronger,” Sansing said.
Janas said he hopes to follow former college standouts like Georgia’s Alex Wood, who spent less than a year in the minors before being called up by to Atlanta.
“My older sister (Haley) told me to hurry up and make the big leagues so she can come and watch,” Janas said.