Cherokee County players made a splash this week, with five drafted in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.
The contingent featured two college pitchers, a pair of college catchers and one high school player.
Former Sequoyah standout Hunter Gaddis, the ace of Georgia State's pitching staff, was the first off the board, when the Cleveland Indians drafted the pitcher in the fifth round, 160th overall.
“It was a wide range of emotions,” Gaddis said. “It left me kind of speechless with a smile on my face. I hadn’t talked to (the Indians) too much before, but I was told the pick before they were going to pick me. It was a real quick turnaround.”
The 6-foot-6, 212-pound right-hander holds the lowest career ERA in Georgia State history at 3.81, and he ranks second in program history in strikeouts.
Gaddis was a second-team all-Sun Belt Conference pitcher and has the option to return to Georgia State for his senior season, but he is leaning toward turning pro.
“The plan now is to go ahead and pursue my career in playing baseball,” Gaddis said. “That’s all I have planned for right now.”
Former Etowah pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long was taken in the sixth round by the Minnesota Twins, following a three-year career at Mercer.
“I was really excited,” Gipson-Long said. “I knew my name was going to be called. They called me a few picks before. It was wild when I heard it. I’m still in awe. I’m a Minnesota Twin.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander posted an 8-4 record with a 5.20 ERA during his junior season at Mercer. Like Gaddis, Gipson-Long has the choice to return to school for his senior season, but he already has his sights set on life as a pro.
“They’ll fly me up for my physical,” he said. “I’ll tour the stadium and meet everyone. I’ll go to Fort Myers and start training with the team. Then I’ll head to rookie ball in Elizabethton, Tennessee. I’m just excited to get started.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates made former Creekview catcher Kyle Wilkie the first local position player drafted when they selected him in the 12th round out of Clemson.
“I got a text from a scout saying he was about to call me, and it popped up on the live-stream,” Wilkie said. “I heard my name, and it didn’t seem real. It was a lifelong dream coming true. It was incredible.”
Wilkie, who hit .307 with with sixhome runs and 41 RBIs for the Tigers this season, said he plans to take some time before taking the next step toward becoming a professional.
“I’m just going to hang out with my family for a few days,” Wilkie said. “Next week, I’ll get ready to report down to wherever they send me and just start playing ball.”
Former River Ridge catcher Luke Berryhill was selected in the 13th round by the Cincinnati Reds, though he seems likely he to wait at least another year at South Carolina before turning pro.
The redshirt sophomore hit .271 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs in his first season with the Gamecocks after playing at Walters State Community College as a freshman.
“I was hoping to go on Day 2,” Berryhill said. “Anything after that was out of the range I was hoping to sign for. I just didn’t expect anything to happen (Wednesday). I’ll most likely be going back to school, unless the Reds just pull something out I had no idea they were going to do.”
The only local high school player drafted was Woodstock shortstop Brennan Milone, a 28th-round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Milone, who has signed with South Carolina, hit .464 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs for the Wolverines this season.