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Indians draft Jefferson pitcher
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Gainesville grad signs with Braves

Gainesville High graduate Robby Hefflinger, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Atlanta Braves in the 2009 MLB Draft, signed a contract with the Braves on Wednesday Turner Field.

Details of the contract were not available.

Rather than hear his name get called and added to the draft board, Chris Beck found out he had been selected in the 2009 MLB Draft on Thursday in a less dramatic fashion: through Facebook.

"Someone had written ‘congratulations’ on my wall," Beck said.

After seeing the comment, Beck checked the draft board. Lo and behold, there he was, selected in the 35th round by the Cleveland Indians.

"Basically my friends knew before I did," Beck said.

Now that he knows as well, the Jefferson High graduate and Georgia Southern University signee is glad the process is over. Having to wait three days to get drafted tested the right-handed pitcher’s patience.

"I was wondering when I was going to get picked," Beck said. "I was beginning to get mixed emotions."

But once Beck found out he had been selected, he had nothing but good things to say about his first-ever professional team.

"I know they have taken some local guys," Beck said. "I’m not familiar with the their history, but when I watch them, they always go out and do their job."

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Beck is one of nine high school players taken by the Indians in this year’s draft. He looks to impress professional coaches with the same mechanics that made him such a dominant pitcher at Jefferson, where he was a three-time Times All-Area first-team selection.

During his senior year in 2009, Beck led the Dragons to a Region 8-AA title and a 22-5 record in their first year in Class AA. He finished the season with an 8-2 record, 0.68 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings pitched. He also excelled at the plate, batting .338 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs.

As a junior, Beck was 9-1 with a 1.51 ERA and 99 strikeouts, while batting .333 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs.

"Chris has a lot of potential," said John Armitage, Beck’s draft advisor. "He’s a big kid with a compact delivery that will allow him to throw hard for a long time."

Although Beck has full intention of eventually playing professionally, he still favors further developing his pitching at Georgia Southern. He says he is "95 percent sure he’ll go to college."

"If I go pro, that becomes my job," said Beck, who requested a $500,000 signing bonus to go along with a professional contract. "If I go to college, I’ll still be able to have fun and be a kid. And I’d like to get a degree, but I may get drafted before that."

Should Beck attend Georgia Southern, he will be draft eligible again after his junior year of college.

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