Morgan leads local draft crop
by Adam Carrington
June 08, 2011 12:28 AM | 4106 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Kell star Adam Morgan got the ball rolling for the Cobb products as the Alabama southpaw was taken by Philadelphia in the third round.
<Br>Associated Press photo
Former Kell star Adam Morgan got the ball rolling for the Cobb products as the Alabama southpaw was taken by Philadelphia in the third round.
Associated Press photo
After growing up in Braves Country, Adam Morgan is now destined to become a Phillie.

The former Kell High School southpaw, after finishing his junior season at Alabama, was selected by Philadelphia on Tuesday in the third round of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.

The first Crimson Tide player drafted this year, Morgan finished with a 5-7 record and a 4.64 ERA. He threw 77 strikeouts and gave up just 16 walks in 97 innings pitched.

One of his bigger strengths was durability. He went six-plus innings in 11 of his 16 starts, tossed a complete game against Tennessee in April and threw eight shutout innings over LSU in May.

Morgan was in his car driving home when he got the news he was drafted.

"I got text messages from some of my buddies telling me, 'Congratulations,' and then I got a call from the Phillies," Morgan said. "I felt like I had a chance to be drafted, but I didn't think I would go that early. It's a dream to get to play pro baseball and the Philles are a great organization. One of the players I played with (at Alabama) is Austin Hyatt from Marietta High School. He's at the Phillies' AA affiliate (in Reading, Pa.) and I can't wait to go play with him."

The prospects of Morgan signing with the Phillies and bypassing his senior season at Alabama will depend on the terms of the contract.

"If it all works out, it would be great to go start my career," Morgan said. "If it doesn't work out, it would be great to go back to Alabama. All my friends and teammates are there and it will be tough to leave them."

After a banner junior season at Georgia Tech, former Walton standout pitcher Mark Pope was taken in the fifth round by the San Diego Padres.

Drafted for the second time after the Braves took him in the 17th round in 2008, the hard-throwing right-hander maintained a 1.74 ERA and finished with an 11-4 mark for the Yellow Jackets, throwing 88 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings pitched.

Three former Pope standouts were drafted Tuesday with two coming from the Greyhounds' 2009 state championship team.

Center fielder Jon Matthews was selected in the eighth round by the Cincinnati Reds, with pitcher Matt Lane going in the ninth to the Chicago White Sox. Both were playing at junior colleges in Florida.

Pitcher Andrew Jones, a senior at Samford University, was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 18th round.

"It's a credit to them," Pope coach Jeff Rowland said of his former players. "Professional baseball has kind of been a goal of theirs, and they have been working toward that goal for a long time. I touched base with Jon and Matt, and they are excited about the opportunity that this may bring."

Former Harrison center fielder Jamal Austin, a junior at UAB, was drafted in the 17th round by the Seattle Mariners after leading the Blazers with a .351 batting average and 26 stolen bases.

Kennesaw State starting pitcher Bryan Blough was drafted by the White Sox in the 18th round after a stellar junior season. He had two complete games on the season and helped lead the Owls to a third-place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Blough led the Kennesaw State starters with a 3.67 ERA and 88 strikeouts.

Southern Poly pitcher Will Rankin was taken in the 17th round by the Colorado Rockies after going 9-2 with a 1.94 ERA for the Hornets as a senior.

Georgia ace Michael Palazzone, a former Lassiter standout, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 24th round. It was the third time Palazzone had been drafted after being selected by Cleveland in the 32nd round last year and by the Braves in the 18th round of the 2008 draft.

Palazzone, who went 10-5 with a 3.15 ERA as a junior at Georgia, guided the Bulldogs into the postseason and was named to the Southeastern Conference's all-tournament team.

Whitefield Academy alumnus Kenny Strauss, most recently of Georgia Perimeter College, was taken by Seattle in the 26th round.

Marietta Daily Journal sports editor John Bednarowski contributed to this report.
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