Several Columbia County natives are currently playing professional baseball at the minor-league level, and all four former county baseball stars are making progress in their careers.
Here's a look at their performances so far this season:
J.J. Johnson (Greenbrier High School) - Chicago Cubs: Johnson remains one of the premiere prospects in Major League baseball's best farm system, and currently plays with Chicago's Single A affiliate in Lansing, Michigan.
After a blazing start, Johnson has cooled off a bit. His batting average has dropped to .256, but he still leads the team in walks (26) and is second in RBI (29).
Johnson's power numbers are a little low (he has one home run in 211 at-bats), but the Cubs are still extremely high on him. The outfielder will represent the Lugnuts in the Midwest League All-Star game, which was played this week at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing.
Tydus Meadows (Evans High School) - Kansas City Royals: While Johnson has cooled off, Meadows is really heating up. The 6-2, 220 pound outfielder is playing for the Wilmington (De.) Blue Rocks, the High A affiliate of the Royals organization.
Meadows has pulled his batting average up to .298, and leads the team in hits (60), walks (36), runs scored (42) and home runs (six). He also is second on the team in RBI (33) and stolen bases (eight).
If Meadows is not moved up to Double-A soon, I'd be surprised. Even more befuddling than the fact that Meadows is still in High A is that he wasn't among three Blue Rocks players chosen for the Carolina League All-Star game.
James Shanks (Greenbrier High School) - Kansas City Royals: Shanks is also in the Royals' system, but is one step below Meadows. Shanks is playing outfield for the Single A Burlington (Iowa) Bees.
Like Johnson and Meadows, Shanks leads his team in several offensive categories. He tops the club with 68 hits, four triples and 18 stolen bases. Shanks is second in batting average (.293) and runs scored (35).
Unfortunately, and probably unjustly, Shanks was left off the Midwest League All-Star team, while three of his teammates were selected.
BJ Hawes (Augusta Christian School) - Cincinnati Reds: Hawes was on the disable list until May 17, and since being reinstated, he has played well in the outfield for the High A Dayton Dragons.
Hawes is hitting .300 through 18 games; in 50 at-bats, he has collected 15 hits, driven in four runs and stolen three bases.
It seems all four of these Columbia County products now playing in the minor league have very bright futures.
Who knows? Maybe they all will join former Evans High star and current Texas Ranger Todd Greene in the big leagues some day.
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