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Kennesaw loses 3 local players to pro baseball

Photo by Jason Braverman

Photo by Jason Braverman

Danny Lockhart, Trey Martin and Nick Moore were supposed to be college roommates at Kennesaw State, which hoped the three Gwinnett baseball products would be cornerstones of a solid recruiting class.

Instead, the three longtime friends are bound for pro baseball. At least Lockhart and Martin, both Chicago Cubs' draftees, will be roommates in Mesa, Ariz., for rookie league ball.

"It's tough (for Kennesaw)," Lockhart said. "Every school goes into this time of year wondering (which signees) are going pro. They know some guys are definitely going (pro), some are not going and some could go either way. So it's tough for them like it is for every school."

Lockhart, a 10th-round selection in this year's Major League Baseball draft, agreed to terms with the Cubs recently but hasn't officially signed his paperwork. The Hebron Christian grad expecting a call from club officials any day to report to Arizona to complete his signing.

Martin, a 13th-round pick out of Brookwood, is waiting for MLB approval on his contract. He's working out in Mesa., waiting to begin his playing career.

Fellow Kennesaw State signee Moore, a good friend of Lockhart and Martin, agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox this week. A 30th-round pick, he flies to Boston this morning for a press conference, lunch and a meeting with general manager Theo Epstein. Later today he'll hop on a plane to Fort Myers, Fla., to play with Boston's Gulf Coast League team.

Moore, also a defensive back for Brookwood's state championship football team last year, has spent much of the past year on tough decisions. He chose Kennesaw State for baseball, then had to decide on an offer to play football at Air Force. He declined that opportunity, then had the pro baseball option open up this summer.

"It's been decisions all year, it's been very difficult," Moore said. "It's finally over now. I know where I'm going and I'm really excited. It's always been a dream of mine to play in the major leagues. But just to play baseball anywhere, I'm excited. ... If I could play for any major league team, it would be the Red Sox. They've always been one of my favorite teams."

Lockhart, Martin and Moore join Parkview grad Zach Cone, Brookwood grad Troy Snitker, Collins Hill grad Justice French and Norcross grad Richard Pirkle as players from Gwinnett's 2011 MLB Draft class who have made the decisions to sign pro contracts.

Cone was the highest selection of the group as a supplemental first-round pick of the Texas Rangers. He already has played 31 games for the Class A Spokane (Wash.) Indians, hitting .258 with three home runs, 24 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Fellow compensatory first-rounder Grayson Garvin of Wesleyan has yet to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, and neither has Buford's Jake Burnette, a seventh-round choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Snitker, a 19th-rounder, signed quickly and has played in 18 games with the Atlanta Braves' Gulf Coast League team. The son of Atlanta Braves assistant Brian Snitker, he has two homers and 11 RBIs.

French, a 25th-pick of the Reds, is off to a strong start in rookie league ball in Arizona. In four starts, the right-hander has a 2-2 record, a 3.97 ERA and 29 strikeouts to just two walks in 222/3 innings.

Pirkle is in the Northwest League with Cone. The Colorado Rockies' 35th-round pick has a .286 average with a homer and five RBIs for the Tri-City (Wash.) Dust Devils.

Wesleyan's James Ramsey (22nd round, Minnesota Twins), Greater Atlanta Christian's Brock Bennett (33rd round, San Francisco Giants), Norcross' Tyler Maloof (34th round, Cleveland Indians) and South Gwinnett's Kent Rollins (48th round, San Diego Padres) haven't signed deals as of Tuesday. Florida State's Ramsey and Georgia's Maloof have the option to return for their senior college seasons, while Bennett has completed his eligibility at Alabama.

Rollins, a 2011 South grad, recently signed a letter of intent with Auburn.