Q&A with GBA’s Adam McDaniel and FanSided Radio’s Daniel Solzman

“I’m working on an article on Byron Buxton for my weekly MLB column.
While I don’t know if he ever trained at the Georgia Baseball Academy, what do you make of the rise in Georgian baseball talent being selected in the first round of the MLB draft over the last few years?” – Daniel Solzman, FanSided Radio

 

Hey Daniel! Thanks for reaching out!  I don’t know Byron personally but I’ve witnessed the rise in talent in GA over the last decade with my own eyes. I grew up in Cobb County. Played at East Cobb. Received a scholarship to UGA and went to two college World Series before being drafted by the Padres in 2007. Along the way I played with or against all of the best talent in Georgia. It got noticeably better each year. Now that I’ve started GBA I’ve been supplanted back into baseball in the region and it seems to be as strong or stronger now. Here are a few items I think have contributed:
Byron Buxton was drafted 2nd overall by the Minnesota Twins out of Appling County High School in Baxley, GA in the 2012 MLB First Player Draft

Byron Buxton was drafted 2nd overall by the Minnesota Twins out of Appling County High School in Baxley, GA in the 2012 MLB First Player Draft

The weather in Georgia is outstanding year round. We may have less than 40   days total that are unplayable and on those days the kids can always train and get  better at an Academy.  Baseball rivals football for status. This is not the case in many states. Baseball has a huge following in this state and I think that contributes heavily. When you have support and the sport is looked fondly upon then it makes it easy for more kids to play. Brings me to point three.  Volume in numbers. Kids are playing travel baseball at an exponential rate. It starts as early as 6 years old! It’s a huge business thanks to the front runner in East Cobb. This point will answer your question in my opinion.  Georgia loves baseball as a state. The Braves are a nationally televised team that wins consistently and drafts well in the state. They make that known. With large volumes of kids training to make it to the next level then it gives Georgia a better  opportunity to have prospects high in the draft.  Last point is the Hope scholarship has allowed kids to automatically receive a 40% scholarship to an in-state school just by making good grades. Couple that with meals and/or room/board and you’ve got a 67% scholarship to play ball. That’s better than any other state has to offer so it raises the level of competition for those spots at the in-state institutions. Cross checkers now have to draft a Georgia kid extremely high or they risk losing that kid to the in-state college. Hard to draft a kid in the 12th round for $75,000 and expect him to turn down a top 10 nationally ranked education for less than $5000 per year.  I could talk forever on baseball and baseball in Georgia but I think I have you enough info on my opinion and what I’ve viewed, not only as a baseball Academy business owner, but more or less from personal playing/viewing experience. – Adam McDaniel, Georgia Baseball Academy