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Jefferson's Beck looks to hear name in baseball draft
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Through out his senior year of high school, Chris Beck prepared for the grueling schedule of playing college baseball.

With a scholarship to Georgia Southern in his back pocket, he woke up every morning at 5:30 to train, went to his classes and then participated in practices or games after school. That's what life as a college baseball player entails, but Beck may not ever have to deal with that schedule.

His new life may involve much more than that.

Today marks the start of the 2009 MLB Draft, and the recent Jefferson High graduate is planning to hear his name called.

"Just hearing my name will be a big deal," said Beck, who saw three scouts watching him during the first game of the year, and nearly 15 once Jefferson reached the Class AA playoffs.

"I wasn't a big name at the start of the year," he added. "I just played a lot of small travel ball and prepared myself to play college ball."

How things can change in one year.

In his senior season at Jefferson, the 6-foot-3 right-hander with a fastball that touches 90 miles per hour on the radar gun, went 8-2 with 118 strikeouts and a 0.68 ERA in 61 1/3 innings pitched.

Scouts started flocking to Jefferson to witness his command of his fastball and curve ball, and most left impressed.

"The big thing with Chris is his size," said Beck's advisor John Armitage, who said Beck is expected to be drafted in the seventh-12th round range. "Scouts love his size and his arm. He's got a great, very compact delivery, and they know if they draft him they won't have to work out a lot of kinks."

Not only will the team get a quality pitcher, but it also get one that can handle pressure situations.

"What I have is maturity," Beck said. "I obviously haven't stepped on a mound with more than 200 people in attendance, but I have composure and work ethic. You can't make it if you don't put in the work.

"There's a lot of characteristics that put you above anyone else," he added. "A 90 mph fastball is nothing in the majors, you gotta bring something else to the table."

Armitage knows that if Beck does forego college and turn pro that he'll be ready.

"When you're in the minor leagues, you face a lot of adversity and you're going to need to be mentally tough," he said. "Excelling in poise and mental toughness are all good assets to have and Chris has them."

But will he be displaying those assets in the minor leagues next year or at Georgia Southern? It all depends on if which ever team that selects him will pay the $500,000 signing bonus Beck is asking for.

"If the number matches then more than likely I'll be going pro," Beck said. "I know in college there will be more memories to be made, that's why it's going to take a good amount of money to offset college."

Signability is one reason why Armitage has heard that Beck may be drafted where he is projected, but he feels that a team would be getting a bargain if they draft Beck this year as opposed to waiting for three years when he's eligible again.

"After three years of development he's going to be a top three-round guy coming out of Southern if he develops the way we all know he can." Armitage said.

The main stage of that development will be playing baseball year round, as Beck played basketball at Jefferson which kept him off the diamond for portions of the year.

"For a guy to throw 90-91 without year-round conditioning is amazing," said Tommy Knight, Beck's coach at Jefferson.

Aside from coaching Beck for four years, Knight has also played a role in helping the 18-year-old decide what to do with his future.

"Either way, he's gonna be alright," Knight said. "The way colleges are developing players, it's almost just as good as going pro. He's gonna get good coaching, good competition and they're going to make him better."

If Beck does sign a professional contract, and become the first Jefferson player to get drafted out of high school, Knight knows exactly what that team can expect.

"They're gonna get a good arm that's only going to get better," he said. "When he develops what he's got, he's gonna be special."

Regardless of whether he goes pro or heads to college, Beck is looking forward to achieve something that he's always dreamed about: being drafted by a Major League franchise.

"I'm pretty sure my heart rate will be out of this world," he said. "I'll have more adrenaline than ever."

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