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HAMMOCK: Future MLB drafts will be deep for Gwinnett

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

There have been some lean years for Gwinnett County in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft. Take 2007, for example.

Only three players were drafted, the highest being Wesleyan grad and Georgia pitcher Stephen Dodson in the 18th round. The county's other two picks that year came in the last four rounds, North Gwinnett's Mitch Rider in the 47th round and Parkview's Stephen McCray in the 50th, and final, round.

Don't expect a year like that to happen in the near future.

The depth of baseball talent in Gwinnett is better than its ever been, creating a pool of not only high-round talent, but also a huge crop of prospects throughout the draft. A record number of local players were drafted this week, continuing a trend that began after that thin class of 2007.

Seven Gwinnett products were drafted in 2008, six in 2009 and eight more in 2010. That average of seven per year got a boost with this year's record haul, which should be more indicative of what future MLB drafts should look like from a local perspective.

This year's draft featured two high picks -- Vanderbilt's Grayson Garvin (Wesleyan) and Georgia's Zach Cone (Parkview) went in the compensatory round on Day 1 -- but also saw a handful of players go quickly on Day 2. Buford's Jake Burnette (seventh round), Hebron's Danny Lockhart (10th round) and Brookwood's Trey Martin (13th) are high school prospects who all were drafted high enough that they'll have to give careful consideration to going pro rather than college.

More talented local players will face similar situations in the future, whether they're coming from high school or college. Guys like Brookwood's Ronnie Freeman, Kennesaw State's hitting machine who is draft eligible in 2012, record home-run hitter Christin Stewart of Providence and two-way threat Matt Olson of Parkview (all 6-foot-5, 230 pounds of him) certainly should have their names called early in next year's draft.

And if Gwinnett's results from recent drafts continue, they won't be alone.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.