2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player draft
TV: MLB Network, MLB.com
In front of the biggest crowds and in the tensest atmospheres, Buford product Justin Glover has typically been able to block out the noise and focus on the next pitch.
His most recent outing, however, initially threw him for a loop.
The left-handed pitcher recently took part in a workout with members of the Tampa Bay Rays organization at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. ahead of this week’s 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player draft.
The University of Georgia commit said that being on the mound for this spring’s Class AAAA championship series didn’t elicit the type of nerves that throwing a bullpen session for major league scouts did.
“This was different than anything I’ve done before,” said Glover, the Region 8-AAAA Pitcher of the Year. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I wasn’t a little nervous. But when I was on the mound, I just got tunnel vision and I was able to do my thing. To throw with the whole place empty, it makes you feel pretty small.”
Glover and Wolves teammate Brandon Marsh are two likely area talents to be taken in this week’s draft, which begins 7 p.m. Thursday and finishes on Saturday evening. The pair helped Buford to a state championship in 2015, and reached the 2016 state title series last month.
Marsh, the Region 8-AAAA Player of the Year, is currently listed as the No. 48 draft prospect, according to the MLB Pipeline’s 2016 Prospect Watch. The Kennesaw State University signee (.559 batting average) led his team with 59 runs, 66 hits and 25 RBIs.
He’s recently been travelling cross-country to attend workouts with the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies.
“It’ll stick with me for the rest of my life,” said Marsh. “To play on the fields that the bigs play on, it’s an unforgettable time of my life.”
Glover and Marsh are the latest Buford products to be in contention for the draft: Former teammates Joey Bart (Georgia Tech) and Jake Higginbotham (Clemson) both opted for college over pro ball after being selected in the 2015 draft.
Twins Nick and Austin Wilhite may also have a chance to see their names called this week. Nick is an outfielder/left-handed pitcher, while Austin is a middle infielder. Both athletes are committed to play at Georgia Tech and play their travel ball with the East Cobb Yankees.
Infielder Griffin Jolliff also rounds out the total of five Buford products who are listed on the Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine Class AAAA All-State Team.
“It’s been incredible,” said Glover. “I don’t know what will come from the draft, but to do all of this stuff is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. No matter what comes from it, I’m glad to be able to do it.”
The southpaw said he won’t be stressing over his status, no matter whether or not he hears his name called. Still, he calls it a “win-win situation” to know he’ll have the option to arrive in Athens this fall.
Glover amassed a 10-0 record in his senior year with Buford, maintaining a 1.52 ERA and striking out 94 batters.
Meanwhile, Marsh recorded a .943 field percentage in 37 games. The Wolves finished the 2016 season with a 32-5 record, falling to Locust Grove in the state title series.
Both Buford players will be watching the draft with their respective families. Glover said he’ll be golfing in his hometown of Albany this week to take his mind off the stress.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” said Marsh. “But I’ve done all the work that I can do. I’m just waiting to see where a team might be willing to take me and where I’m willing to go.”
Gainesville High graduate Jonathan Gettys was projected to be a high draft pick before he was dismissed from the team following his arrest in April on charges of driving under the influence of alchohol and driving on the wrong side of the road.
Gettys, a left-handed pitcher, was later released from his national letter of intent with Louisiana State University.
The 2016 MLB draft can be seen on the MLB Network and MLB.com. The Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves have the first three picks of the first round.
The first day will feature the first two rounds and the supplemental rounds that follow. Rounds 3-10 will begin at 1 p.m. Friday. Rounds 11-40 will commence from noon Saturday.
The signing day for underclassmen and high school seniors selected in the First-Year Player draft is July 15.