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MLB Draft: When clubs call college players, the choice is not always easy
BY STEVE DeSHAZO
Besides Adam Lopez, two other former Stafford County high school standouts were drafted Wednesday.
For one, the decision is easy. For the other, it will require some thought.
Colonial Forge graduate Levi Hyams expects to sign with the Atlanta Braves soon after being drafted in the 19th round. He was a four-year starter in the infield at the University of Georgia.
“It’s my hometown team,” Hyams said. “It’s really cool to be drafted by the Braves. All my family is in Georgia, and they’re ecstatic.”
For Mountain View alumnus Kyle Haynes, the choice isn’t automatic.
He has a year of eligibility left at VCU, where he was the Rams’ No. 1 starting pitcher this spring. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose him in the 20th round, and he’ll listen to their offer before deciding whether to sign.
“Right now, I’m leaning more toward starting my pro career,” he said.
Haynes went 4–4 with a 4.45 ERA as a junior in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-hander led the Rams in strikeouts (73) and innings pitched (93). He had a career record of 13–14 and a 4.34 ERA in 41 career starts.
He said the experience of starting most of the Rams’ top games helped prepare him for a possible pro career. Most schools use their top starter on Friday in the opener of a weekend series.
“The mindset of going into the games as the Friday night guy, you’re usually facing the other team’s best pitcher,” he said. “You try to develop the attitude that you have to shut down the other team. Your teammates are counting on you. You develop a competitive mindset.”
Haynes said he hadn’t heard from the Pirates since the beginning of the season, but one of their scouts called him Monday to alert him of the team’s interest.
Like Haynes, Hyams (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) was an instant contributor in college. He started at shortstop as a freshman at Georgia, then moved to second base as a sophomore and stayed there for the rest of his career.
He ranks fifth in school history with 224 games played, including 211 starts. He set school records for highest fielding percentage at shortstop (.962 in 2009) and second base (.983 in 2011).
His glove was the primary reason he was drafted. After batting a team-best .332 as a junior, he slumped to .25o as a senior, although he did finish his college career on an eight-game hitting streak, including the NCAA tournament. For his career, he batted .295 with 16 home runs and 101 RBIs.
“It wasn’t my best year,” he admitted. “I started out pretty hot the first week or two, but then I cooled down big time. I started putting pressure on myself, and I kept digging myself a bigger hole.
“Being a senior, and being one of the guys who had played all four years, I figured I should be playing better, and I started stressing myself out.”
The son of a military family, Hyams was born in Oceanside, Calif., but moved to Stafford as a teenager and helped Colonial Forge reach the 2008 state title game. His father, Mike, has retired to Georgia.
Cleveland took Orange County native D.J. Brown in the 39th round despite the fact that he missed his junior season at James Madison University with an undisclosed injury.
A 6-foot-6, 200-pound right-handed pitcher, Brown went 9–1 with a 4.00 ERA and nine saves as a sophomore in 2011. He struck out 92 in 96 innings.
North Stafford senior Sean Kennedy was called by the Arizona Diamondbacks during the draft’s 37th round Wednesday.
Wolverines coach Jim Labrusciano said the team made Kennedy a contract offer, and gave him a five-minute deadline to decide if he’d accept before they would use a draft pick on the all-Northwest Region pitcher.
Kennedy, who has a substantial scholarship to play baseball at Virginia Tech, declined the offer and was not selected.
Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443