Staff Photo: John Bohn
Grayson grad Austin Meadows, center, shakes the hand of his grandfather Ken Meadows while celebrating being drafted ninth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday. A large gathering of Meadows’ family and friends gathered at his home in Grayson to watch the draft. At far left is Austin’s mother, Stacie Meadows.
GRAYSON — Even as unpredictable as the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft can be, there were some certainties heading into the opening night of the event for recently graduated high school seniors Austin Meadows and Josh Hart.
Both Meadows, from Grayson, and Hart, from Parkview, expected to hear their names called during one of the first two rounds, plus the compensatory and competitive balance picks, Thursday night.
They just didn’t know exactly where and when that would happen, though at least one member of Meadows’ family had some insight.
“Austin’s younger brother, Parker, made the prediction last week that it was going to be the (Pittsburgh) Pirates,” Meadows’ father, Kenny, said during a gathering of dozens of family and friends as his Grayson home Thursday night.
As it turns out, young Parker Meadows was right on the money, as older brother Austin was selected with the No. 9 overall pick by Pittsburgh.
It made the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Rams’ center fielder Gwinnett County’s highest-selected player ever, 12 spots higher than Brookwood’s Lucas Sims, who was taken at No. 21 by the Atlanta Braves in last year’s draft.
While Meadows had a relatively early night, Hart, meanwhile, had to wait a little longer before the speedy Parkview center fielder was taken with the 37th pick in the Competitive Balance A round by the Baltimore Orioles (STORY).
Together, Meadows and Hart’s selections mark the second straight year at least two Gwinnett high school seniors were taken on the draft’s first night, after Sims and former Parkview standout Matt Olson were taken — along with Wesleyan grad and Florida State outfielder James Ramsey — in the first 47 picks last year.
“It’s just so exciting,” Meadows said. “I’m just glad I was able to (be selected so high), but I’ve got plenty of work to do. This is just the beginning. I’m excited to get out there and start playing (in the minors), and hopefully I can make it to the big leagues as fast as I can.”
Meadows, who hit a Gwinnett-best .535 with four home runs, 28 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 17 stolen bases and a 1.586 OPS in helping the Rams (19-10) to a berth in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs, said he expects to meet with Pirates officials sometime early next week.
He also hopes to be able to come to terms to begin his professional career, likely in the Gulf Coast League, shortly thereafter.
But while his brother had a premonition that he might be headed to Pittsburgh, Meadows said he had none.
“Honestly, no one called us,” Meadows said. “We were just sitting there waiting. I was getting a little mad and saying, ‘I keep slipping.’ But I just heard my name (on the television) in the living room, and it’s just great.”
In addition to the two Gwinnett players, two other area players were selected during Thursday night’s rounds.
Loganville center fielder Clint Frazier was the first player from Georgia picked when he went to the Cleveland Indians with the fifth overall pick in the first round, while Winder-Barrow third baseman Travis Demeritte was taken by the Texas Rangers with the 30th overall pick.
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