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Gainesville's Owings excited to lead Gainesville Braves onto the baseball field, despite MLB's decision to pull the plug on formal 2020 season
Roster of Division-I talent will settle for 'sandlot' games due to lingering concerns over coronavirus
Micah Owings
Gainesville Braves co-owner Micah Owings talks with his pitcher Jonathan Cannon, who pitches at the University of Georgia, during Tuesday's scrimmage at Chestatee High.

Micah Owings was devastated last week when the news came down that the Gainesville Braves summer league baseball team he helped orchestrate was a no-go, following a vote by the MLB. 

The Gainesville High graduate, who co-owns the team that was planning to play in the Sunbelt League, had all the bells and whistles in place to give local fans an enjoyable experience in the evenings at the ballpark. 

The players were names easily recognizable to those who follow the college game. The league was created to give players the same exposure as the prestigious Cape Cod League, which had previously announced it would not operate this summer.

But it was brought to a halt on June 23. 

Due to lingering concerns about the coronavirus, there will be no formal season for the Gainesville Braves with games at Ivey-Watson Field. 

“We’re really disappointed with the news that the league is shut down for this summer, but we respect the decision by MLB,” Owings said. 

Despite the punch to the gut, Owings isn’t going to sulk about things he can’t control. 

Instead, the state’s all-time leader in home runs during his high school career is turning lemons into lemonade.

Pitchers are still going to take the bump. Hitters will get their swings at the plate. And pro scouts will cycle through to get a look at the future pro-draft picks.

Even though not a production for fans any longer, Owings plans for the Braves to play ‘sandlot’ outings during the month of July. Home games will be played at Ivey-Watson and Chestatee High. 

And he said players, who missed most of the spring season due to the public health crisis, are stoked to hit the field. 

Now, more than ever, summer league reps are important for players who have aspirations of playing at the highest level. Owings is making sure they still have that opportunity. 

The Gainesville Braves will still be managed by Frank Fultz, who was the longtime strength and conditioning coach for the Atlanta Braves. 

To ensure player safety, Owings is working with local physician, Dr. Caleb Henson, who will get involved if players start to show any symptoms of COVID-19.

Strictly because of it being a public health concern, Owings is not encouraging fans to attend games in Gainesville. However, family and friends of players will be on hand and asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

Here’s a look at some of the players who will be suiting up this summer for the Gainesville Braves. 

Jonathan Cannon, Right-handed pitcher, University of Georgia: Freshman was named All-American by Collegiate Baseball ... Made five relief appearances in 2020 for the Bulldogs and posted a 3-0 record and 0.00 ERA in 11 1/3 innings with two walks and 12 strikeouts ... Held opponents to a .111 batting average. 

Michael Trautwein, Catcher/Outfielder, Northwestern: Had a two-run homer in the season opener against Omaha. ... Was a first-team freshman All-Big Ten selection in 2019 with a .243 batting average and threw out 70 percent of attempted base stealers.

Charlie Benson, Infielder, Georgia Tech: Sophomore played in 10 of 14 games in 2020 for the Yellow Jackets. 

Andrew Pinckney, Outfielder, University of Alabama: Freshman from Peachtree City didn’t get on the field in 2020 for the Crimson Tide but was ranked the 32nd-best outfield prospect in the state out of high school, according to Perfect Game. 

Alek Boychuk, Catcher, Mill Creek High: Highly-touted University of South Carolina signee hit a career-best .415 with seven home runs in 2018 for the Hawks. Two-time All-County selection by the Gwinnett Daily Post. 

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