June 20, 2012
Nearly three weeks have passed since Providence Christian's (much-delayed) victory in the Class A state championship series officially ended the 2012 high school baseball season.
Still after a very notable (and in many ways historic) MLB First-Year Player Draft, the release of the Daily Post's All-County team and a week's vacation, there are a few loose ends I'd like to tie up before I put the season to rest.
So, bear with me while I dispense a few random thoughts looking back at the season, and ahead to the summer and beyond to the spring and next season.
• Item 1: A few belated congratulations are in order.
First to the newly crowned 2012 National Champion Parkview Panthers — so anointed by Baseball America and the Baseball Coaches of America.
A lot of comparisons have been made between Parkview's current two-year run as Class AAAAA state champions and their identical run a decade ago, but this feat is one that even Jeff Francoeur and the boys never even accomplished.
In fact, as far as anyone can tell, only one other team from Georgia — the 1999 Class AAAA state champions from Lassiter — has been named as national champs by the one of amateur baseball's most prominent sounding boards since it began doing so.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't pass along kudos to this year's outstanding draft class, especially first-night selections Lucas Sims (Brookwood), James Ramsey (Wesleyan/Florida State) and Matt Olson (Parkview). I'd also like to pass along an apology to Shiloh grad (and Kennesaw state pitcher) Josh Carr, who we inadvertently omitted in our coverage of this year's draft after he was taken in the 28th round by the Detroit Tigers. When a draft has as many rounds (40) as baseball's does, a few locals are bound to fall through the cracks now and then.
• Item 2: As long as I'm on the subject of the draft, one name that I'm a little perplexed didn't get called was that of Providence slugger Christin Stewart.
Yes, I know signability will always be an issue that steers teams away from players with solid college scholarships like Stewart has with Tennessee, especially with signing bonus money more limited these days than in past years.
Still, if you ever get a chance to listen in on the draft's conference call during the third day each year, you often hear a lot of interesting picks in the later rounds, usually prefaced with phrases like, "son of former major leaguer X" or "nephew of current (insert name of team) scout Y."
Seriously, if teams are going to essentially waste late-round picks by drafting legacies (occasional success stories like Mike Piazza notwithstanding), you'd think somebody would take a flier on a kid who not only broke a state career record (and finished just one shy of the national record) for home runs, but also possesses skills and baseball savvy of Stewart.
• Item 3: As strong as high school baseball has become here in Gwinnett County, there are always going to be some deserving players and coaches left out when All-County honors (from the Daily Post or the county's coaches) get handed out.
But as loaded as the county was this year, we could've come with a whole extra team when considering the "best of the rest."
In normal years, players like Buford's Kyler Berrett, Hebron Christian's Tyler Hutch and P.J. Westbury, Parkview's Jeff Ronpirin, Dacula's Brandyn Bartlett and Wesleyan's Griffin Bone could've easily found a home on either the first or second teams.
The same can be said for the county's coaches, among which outstanding jobs such as the ones turned in by the likes of Lanier's Chad Longe, Mountain View's Jason Johnson, Mill Creek's Doug Jones, North Gwinnett's Frank Vashaw and Shiloh's Reggie Ingram, among others, would be more likely to be rewarded.
That brings me to…
• Item last: As tough as it was to come up with a preseason Super Six prior to this season given this year's loaded senior class, it won't be much easier for us to make those selections next year, given another strong senior class, and some talented underclassmen, returning.
Sure, there are a couple of players who seem to be no-brainers — like Grayson's Austin Meadows and Parkview's Josh Hart, both of whom have already committed to major college programs (Clemson and Georgia Tech respectively) and could be prime draft targets next June after spending this summer on the showcase and All-American game circuit.
Still, with a pool the includes, but is not limited to, other top returning stars like Grayson's Taylor Allum, Mill Creek's dynamic duo of Shane Seckinger and Cody Pugh, North's Tucker Baca, Peachtree Ridge's Tyler Haswell, Mountain View's A.J. Moore and Shiloh's Markus McCorkle, we'll have another tough task ahead of us narrowing it down to just six by next February.
It also raises the anticipation level for everything to get started again.
But for now, have a great summer and see you next spring (or late winter, as the case may be).