If you look at today's Athens Banner Herald profile of football recruit Xavier Avery, it's pretty clear that he won't be donning shoulder pads for the red and black next season. This isn't a big surprise by any means, as MLB Draft watchers have been eyeing him for well over a year, and are currently pegging Avery to go anywhere from the tail end of the 1st round to somewhere in the 3rd. That means a six figure signing bonus which would be really hard for any high school baseball player to pass up. Heck, it would be hard for anyone to pass up.
Good luck to Xavier in the draft (which begins this afternoon at 2 p.m. and can be followed live at the MLB website ). While losing football signees usually drives me a little batty, I always felt that Avery was a much better prospect in baseball than football, and has been open about the fact that his heart is really on the diamond. Plus this relieves a little scholarship congestion resulting from a big class last season followed by what should be smaller classes in 2009 and 2010. This should be a really special day for him and I hope he enjoys it.
DB Sanders Commings is also expected to be drafted, but unlike Avery is already on campus in Athens with other football signees. He's expected to go later in the draft, probably 4th to 6th rounds. I would be surprised if he opts out of playing football, and I think it would probably be a mistake to do so. But when baseball executives start talking money, most prospects taken in the first half of the draft are at least willing to listen. So we'll really just have to see what happens.
Several current Bulldog baseball players should also get a call, including Gordom Beckham and Josh Fields, who are both almost certain to go in the first round. Beckham looks like he'll go to a team planning to move him to second base (possibly the Reds at #7), while Fields could go just about anywhere. There's usually a market for college pitchers who can a) get to the majors in a hurry and b)eat up innings like so many bowls of Frosted Flakes. Fields can do both, so he should get a serious look from every team drafting #12 on down.
This will, by the way, likely be my one baseball post ever. Unless and until John Smoltz really does retire. Then there might be man tears. I'm just saying.