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Five more local players taken on MLB Draft's final day

It's becoming almost routine to find names with ties to Gwinnett County sprinkled throughout the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

That trend continued as this year's draft wrapped up Saturday, with five more current or former Gwinnett prep standouts selected.

Three of those addition players went within 33 picks of each other in the middle round, beginning with former North Gwinnett, and now Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) Community College left-handed pitcher, Nick Jones going with the 432nd pitch in the 14th round to the San Francisco Giants.

Just 11 picks later at the 465th spot, the Boston Red Sox selected Mill Creek outfielder Bryan Hudson, while Parkview catcher/first baseman Jarrett Freeland went with the 465th pick in the 15th round to the Cincinnati Reds despite missing most of the 2013 season following elbow surgery.

Rounding out the local picks were Grayson left-handed pitcher Chris Erwin, who went to the Minnesota Twins with the 830th pick in the 28th round and former Mill Creek, and now Georgia Tech, right-handed pitcher Matt Grimes, who was taken with the 931st pick in the 31st round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

For Grimes, who like Freeland also missed the 2013 season following elbow surgery last fall, it was his second selection in the draft. He was initially taken out of high school by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.

The total of eight local players is slightly smaller than the past two years, when the draft class reached double digits, its very much on par with pretty much every class since 2000.

And many analysts are still talking about the top of this year's class, with Grayson's Austin Meadows leading the way at the No. 9 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I like the pick," said John Hart, one of MLB Network's draft analysts. "This is an upside player. I think if he can play center, he'll be a power-hitting center fielder. If he goes to the corner (outfield position), I think we'd use a little bit of a Jay Bruce (comparison)."

Another MLB analyst, Jonathan Mayo, had equally strong praise for Parkview's Josh Hart, who was taken with the 37th overall pick in the Competitive Balance A round by the Baltimore Orioles, and was the fourth player from north Georgia selected on the opening night of the draft, along with Loganville's Clint Frazier and Winder-Barrow's Travis Demeritte.

"I had him in the first round," Mayo said of Hart. "There was a lot of talk about him sneaking into the back end of the first round because of that athleticism. This is a guy, he's a table-setter, top-of-the-order catalyst. Sure, Frazier and Meadows got a lot of the attention, Travis Demeritte went. It's a good year for high school athletes coming out of the state of the Georgia."