Before they became first-round draft picks, 2012 Daily Post Pitcher of the Year and Brookwood grad Lucas Sims and 2013 Daily Post Player of the Year and Grayson grad Austin Meadows first made their mark with the USA Baseball program.
And another Gwinnett County resident is hoping to follow a similar path to success after being picked for one of the program’s national teams.
Buford resident, and rising junior at King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Brandt Stallings was recently one of 40 players nationwide to be selected for USA Baseball’s 17U National Team Developmental Program.
And the fact participation in the USA Baseball program is what put both Sims, who played for the 16U and 18U National Teams in high school, and Meadows, who was with the 16U National Team in 2011, on the radar for professional scouts is not lost on him.
“Yes sir, I’ve sat down with my parents and we’ve talked a lot about that,” the 6-foot-4, 225-pound first baseman/outfielder said. “It’s a big plus, and we’re very excited about that. I believe I’m on track. I’ve put in the work, and it’s starting to show. But I still have to work hard.”
Stallings’ hard work has manifested itself in impressive recent performances, including hitting .405 with three home runs, 29 RBIs and a 1.015 OPS during King’s Ridge’s run to a second-round appearance in the Class A (private) state playoffs.
He has also had a strong summer, including a perfect 5-for-5 day for his Demarini Roadrunners travel team in its opening-round game of the 6-4-3 DP/Leo Mazzone Tournament last month in Marietta.
It’s already garnered him college scholarship offers from Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, plus interest from Duke, North Carolina and Mississippi State.
Such rapid success can be a lot for a young player to handle.
However, Stallings has a few advantages, including the presence of two of his King’s Ridge teammates — catcher Seth Beer and shortstop Grayson Byrd — to join him in the NTDP.
In addition, his own ambition will help him to make the most of the program when he travels to USA Baseball’s training complex in Cary, N.C., next month for instruction, and the National Team Identification Series of intrasquad games.
“It is exciting, and it is a little overwhelming at first,” Stallings admitted. “But you just wrap your head around it and say to yourself, ‘If I want to go pro one day, then I’ll have to get use to this.’ If this is just a little taste (of big-time baseball), then I’m really excited about it.”