Harlem High School has a rich baseball tradition. Harlem, not Evans or Greenbrier, leads the county in state baseball titles.
The Bulldogs won seven state championshipsfrom 1974 to 1986. Since that last state crown the Bulldogs have continued to put quality teams on the field and are a fixture in the GHSA state playoffs. Despite all of this success, and the fact that Harlem has produced dozens of All-State performers, until a few weeks ago the school had produced only three Major League draft picks in school history.
In 1975, Vernon Thomas (OF) was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round and James “Bo” Shanks (RHP) was taken in the 19th round by the Braves. Shanks’s son James Jr. was also drafted.
He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 1998 MLB draft, but he left Harlem after his freshman year, transferring to Greenbrier, before finishing high school at Solomon Christian School in North Augusta. The last Harlem graduate to be taken in the draft was Mike Leverette (3B). Leverette was selected by the Braves in the 18th round in 1981. His story was detailed recently by Scott Rouch.
So three players drafted in the long, rich history of Harlem Bulldog Baseball. Well, that number nearly doubled in one day earlier this month when a pair of Bulldogs were taken in the 30th Round. First, the Oakland A’s took LHP Derek Beasley.
Then, three picks later, Beasley’s best friend Josh Wirsu went to the St. Louis Cardinals. What a day for Harlem baseball. Beasley just completed a sensational collegiate career at USC-Aiken. He was the Pacers workhorse for the last four seasons. During his career as a Pacer, Beasley appeared in 61 games, making 54 starts on the mound. He finished his career 29-13 with an ERA of 3.58. He also struck out 292 batters. Wirsu had a different path to the 2014 Draft. He had a solid prep career at Harlem, before spending a couple of seasons at the JUCO Level.
He caught scout’s eye this season at Georgia Southern, where he turned in a spectacular junior campaign. The right hander was named Pitcher of the Year in the Southern Conference after going 9-3 with a 2.44 ERA for the Eagles.
Being a senior, Beasley had a very easy decision to sign with the A’s. Wirsu, however, had the option to return to Georgia Southern for another season.
Beasley is with the A’s rookie club in the Arizona League, while his pal Wirsu is in Johnson City, Tenn., with the Cardinals’ rookie team in the Appalachian League.