David Perno's club has already had to endure a rough, to put it nicely, start to their 2013 campaign, but for the 16 former Georgia players now plying their trade in the professional ranks, the season is just about to begin. You may have read how their seasons ended last October. Well, below we give you an update on where each of these guys are expected to play now that spring training is over and both major and minor league rosters are getting set.
We'll start with Chicago White Sox free agent addition Jeff Keppinger.
Going into now his 8th season in the big leagues, Keppinger will finally get a chance to be an everyday player after spending much of the past 7 years filling in for injured players, or bouncing around the diamond as a utility man, or as a top pinch hitter. He's expected to start at 3B for the White Sox, and hit 2nd in their lineup.
Robin Ventura's club will have a pair of former Diamond Dawg shortstops in his infield, as Keppinger will be joined by Gordon Beckham at 2B. The 26 year old has worked on a new batting stance this spring, with hopes that he can regain the form that saw him rip the cover off the ball as a rookie, and bring his production at the plate up to a level similar to his highly regarded production fielding.
Reliever Mitchell Boggs will be enjoying a new role with the St. Louis Cardials this year, working the 9th inning. After producing at a high level as a set-up man, an elbow injury to expected closer Jason Motte will keep him out for the forseeable future, paving the way for Boggs to step up.
The Houston Astros, now in the American League, picked up former Diamond Dawg closer Joshua Fields with the first pick of the Rule V draft last winter, and the former Mariners and Red Sox farmhand impressed this spring, winning a job in their bullpen. The former Prince Avenue Christian School star has spent the last 4 years working his way up in the minor league, so the first time he takes the mound this year will be his MLB debut.
Texas Rangers righty Justin Grimm made his Major League debut last season, but a rough spring will see him headed back to where his season ended last year, at their AAA affiliate in Round Rock. MLB.com rates him as the 10th best prospect in an overflowing with talent minor league system for the Rangers.
After spending time in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tiger organizations, Brooks Brown as a non-roster invitee to the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training this year. He had a solid handful of appearances for them, including registering 3 saves, but was not impressive enough to make the big club. Instead, he will begin his 2013 in AAA, with the Indianapolis Indians (and before you ask, yes, that is still with the Pirates and not a part of Cleveland's organization).
Jeff Walters got a little taste of spring training with the big club, as the New York Mets had him throw for 1 2/3 innings with the big club. He will begin the season with their A+ affiliate in the Florida State League at St. Lucie.
Alex Wood got more than just a little taste with the Atlanta Braves in spring training, impressing the front office and teammates like Tim Hudson in several appearances for them. He is slated to get the bump up to AA Mississippi in his first full season of pro ball, and may even get a look later on this season with the big club if all goes well.
OF Zach Cone joined Justin Grimm in the Rangers camp, and even got a couple games with the big club. They still list him with the A ball Hickory Crawdads, but after a full season there, I'd expect he begins in A+ with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
I'm assuming Stephen Dodson will be back with the Colorado Rockies AAA club in Colorado Springs. He had a solid season with them last year, but for whatever reason did not get any games in the Rockies' spring training. He is listed with the AAA roster though, although they may not have updated that since last season.
Now is where things start to get tricky. Rich Poythress spent his second season with the Seattle Mariners' AA club, the Jackson Generals. As such, he's one you'd expect to get at least a little taste of big league camp in spring training. But alas, that did not happen. He's listed still with the Generals' roster, but having spent over 200 games with them, he doesn't have much left to show at that level and should get bumped up to their AAA team, the Tacoma Rainiers.
Trevor Holder is in a similar conundrum with the Nationals. He ended the season well with their AA club, the Harrisburg Senators. As such, you'd have expected him to get a spring training invite, but that was not the case. He is listed with the Senators' roster though, so I expect him to pick back up where he left off, starting in AA.
Another in that situation is Berry Tanner, last seen with the Vermont Lake Monsters of the Oakland A's organization. As old as he is, I'd expect him to join their full season, A ball team this year. We'll have to wait until later in April before we find out though.
Levi Hyams was drafted by the Braves last year, and had a decent enough season for their advanced rookie ball team in Danville. This season, expect him to get things underway playing 2B for the A ball Rome Braves.
Bryce Massanari had his season cut short due to a forearm injury last year. He is still listed with the Colorado Rockies' A ball club, the Modesto Nuts (have I mentioned how much I love the team names for some minor league ball clubs?).
Chase Davidson ended his season with the Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York-Penn League, but seems to have been demoted and is listed as part of the Houston Astros' rookie ball GCL team. That is not a good sign for his long term future as a professional baseball player.
As best I can tell, former Braves and Marlins C Clint Sammons was not with anyone this spring, and may well have finished his baseball career. If this is incorrect, please tell me otherwise in the comments.