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June 9, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

The first week of June is always a busy one for Georgia Tech baseball players.

It’s pretty much been that way since 1965, when Major League Baseball instituted its First-Year Player Draft. 

Georgia Tech has supplied more than its share of players over the years, beginning with second baseman Randy Carroll, an 18th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1965, then a sixth-rounder by the Cleveland Indians a year later. Heading into the 2013 Draft, which began on Thursday and continues through Saturday, 152 Yellow Jackets have heard their names called a total of 177 times. Another 68 players drafted straight out of high school, chose to forego the Majors and attend Georgia Tech.

Those are impressive numbers. 

The demand for Georgia Tech players was there prior to 1994 when Danny Hall was named head coach, but has really taken off since then.

Prior to the ’13 Draft, 101 different Yellow Jackets heard their names called 113 times since Hall arrived on the Flats. That’s included seven first-round picks, six more chosen in the supplemental first round (the round between the first and second, awarded to teams that have lost a free agent the previous year), and four in the second round. In the first five rounds, Tech has had 34 players selected and 47 more Yellow Jackets have been selected in the first 10 rounds.

Amongst those first-rounders are former- or current-Major Leaguers, pitcher Kevin Brown, catcher Jason Varitek, who was a two-time first-round selection, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, first baseman Mark Teixeira, and catcher Matt Wieters. Second-rounders include current Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (2008) and Miami Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich (2010).

The possibility of playing for Hall and getting a Georgia Tech education has proven more attractive than playing in the Majors to 47 high school seniors that were drafted by Major League teams. That’s an average north of two players a year for each of the 20 years Hall has been in the Yellow Jackets’ dugout.

Proof of how Tech has developed players for the next level is evident in that Georgia Tech has had at least four players selected by Major League teams 17 times in the Hall era, and every year since 2001.

In the 2013 Draft, the Jackets had three players chosen by the time the fourth round was complete, as junior 1B/OF/LHP Daniel Palka (3rd round, 88th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks), junior C/RHP Zane Evans (4th round, 114th overall by the Kansas City Royals), and senior RHP Buck Farmer (5th round, 156th overall by the Detroit Tigers), a 15th-round selection in 2012, were off the board. In addition, Parkview High School outfielder Josh Hart, who signed a letter of intent to attend Georgia Tech, was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in Competitive Balance Round A (formerly the supplemental round), with the 37th overall pick.

Two more Yellow Jackets were chosen in the eighth round, as outfielders Kyle Wren, a junior, and Brandon Thomas, a senior, were selected on consecutive picks by the Atlanta Braves (No. 253) and New York Yankees (No. 254). Both Wren and Thomas, like Farmer, came back to Tech for the 2013 season despite being drafted in 2012. Palka had been drafted previously in 2010.

With the selection of senior 3B Sam Dove in the 14th round (pick No. 421) by the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yellow Jackets had six players selected with more than half of Saturday remaining.

The six picks is not a record in the Hall era, as Tech has had as many as 10 players selected in 2004, 2007 and 2010, but it is the most Jackets drafted in three years and matches the school-high for any year prior to Hall’s arrival in 1994 — Tech had six players drafted in 1985, ’87, ’90, and ’91.

In coming days, Sting Daily will check in with some of the newest Georgia Tech Major League draftees as well as Coach Hall. 


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