Cone, Blackmon top MLB draft prospects

A couple of players from Gwinnett County are projected to have their names called in the first few rounds when the annual baseball draft begins on June 5.

Parkview outfielder Zach Cone is ranked as the No. 80 prospect by Baseball America, while Georgia Tech outfielder Charlie Blackmon from North Gwinnett is listed at No. 143 in the latest rankings.

Cone, who also pitched for Parkview, batted .419 with six homers, 23 RBIs and 16 stolen bases as a senior. He has signed a scholarship with Georgia.

Blackmon, a junior who was a pitcher until this season, leads Georgia Tech with a .384 average. He has eight homers, 42 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

This is considered a banner year for Georgia prospects, with Baseball America projecting Griffin shortstop Tim Beckham as a possible No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay. He is Baseball America's No. 3 prospect.

Florida State catcher Buster Posey, from Lee County, is ranked No. 4 by Baseball America, Georgia shortstop Gordon Beckham is No. 6 and Bulldogs closer Josh Fields is No. 18.

That means that all three will likely join Tim Beckham as first-round picks.

Fields was drafted in the second round by the Braves last year, but elected to return to Georgia for his senior season.

Eleven high school players from the state are ranked in the Top 200 prospects by Baseball America. Joining Tim Beckham and Cone are Stephens County pitcher-third baseman Ethan Martin (No. 16), Cedar Grove outfielder Xavier Avery (No. 59), Kell pitcher Zeke Spruill (No. 66), North Atlanta outfielder Jay Austin (No. 99), Woodward catcher Brandon Miller (No. 101), Milton first baseman Chase Davidson (No. 106), Lassiter pitcher Michael Palazzone (No. 139), Ware County pitcher Cecil Tanner (No. 144) and Cartersville catcher Taylor Hightower (No. 165). Georgia pitcher Trevor Holder is ranked No. 148 and Georgia Tech pitcher David Duncan is No. 151.

The Braves don't have a pick in the first round this year, but will draft 40th overall with a supplemental pick. They also have two selections in the second round.