Lakeside High School senior Chris Synan could have played football for the Panthers during the 2001 season, but he opted instead to polish his baseball skills.
The decision to play fall baseball with the Martinez-Evans Barons paid off, as Synan signed a letter of intent to attend Georgia College & State University on a baseball scholarship next year.
Parents Jeff and Kathy Synan (background, from left) and coaches Jimmy Smith and Bob Kellett were on hand for Chris Synan's signing.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
North Georgia's coaching staff scouted Synan during an AAU tournament in Atlanta this fall, where he displayed his 85 mph fastball, slider and change-up.
The Saints liked what they saw and signed him.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound pitcher played for the Lakeside football team for three seasons, but narrowing his focus this year was the right move, according to Barons coach Bob Kellett.
"More and more kids are specializing in one sport because it's so competitive for scholarships; you have to be out there at the right time, and the right time to be seen in baseball is the fall," Kellett said. "That's not a recommendation for a football player to quit and play baseball, but summer and fall are the times when colleges have more of an opportunity to scout."
Synan selected the Saints over several other programs because North Georgia is one of only six recognized military academies in the United States.
Additionally, the Dahlonega, Ga., school has one of the top NAIA baseball teams in the country - the Saints are ranked No. 5 nationally headed into the 2002 season.
Signing early has pros and cons, according to Synan.
"It takes a little stress off, not having to worry about where I'm going," he said. "It also adds some pressure because I have to prove that I deserve to be a college player."
Lakeside baseball coach Jimmy Smith is confident Synan will come through, both in his senior prep season and at the next level.
"I've got to have three or four good pitchers, and right now Chris is one of them. He's going to do a good job," Smith said. "I think he's going to do well in college. His ball moves well, and heck, he's still growing. Chris is going to be a late bloomer."
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