Last spring, Greenbrier High School seniors Philip Tapley and Robert Davis were considered potential Major League baseball draft picks, but prior to the Amateur Draft in June, each signed to play at Manatee Community College, a junior college power based in Bradenton, Fla.
When draft day rolled around, the San Francisco Giants selected the Wolfpack duo. Tapley was picked in the 28th round, and Davis went in the 50th.
At the time, San Francisco scout Lee Elder noted Tapley's potential as a pitcher, and he thought Davis could become a very good catching prospect.
But both Tapley and Davis held off on signing professional contracts and chose to stick with their decision to play college ball in the Sunshine State.
Manatee Community College has an excellent baseball tradition, and the team had won a record 12-straight state junior college championships, including last season, when the Lancers went on to finish second in the nation.
In all, Manatee has competed in the JUCO World Series nine times, and has averaged nearly 40 wins a per season since the program started in 1959.
Davis and Tapley quickly established themselves as key players last fall.
Tapley pitches and plays outfield, while Davis is at first base or designated hitter, although he most likely will move back behind the plate next season.
Unfortunately, the fall success didn't continue this spring for Tapley. In the most recent statistics from Manatee, Tapley had an 0-2 pitching record with an earned run average of 11.25, and at the plate he was struggling to get his average above .200.
Still, Manatee coach Tim Hill was still pleased with the freshman.
"He is a great kid," Hill said of Tapley. "He's not getting to play a lot, but he is still working hard. Both he and Robert have great attitudes."
Davis has had a productive freshman campaign. Through 38 games, he was hitting .298 with 17 runs scored and 28 RBIs.
The Lancers finished second in the regular-season standings in their conference, and the team began play in the FCAA Region IIX Gulf District State Tournament on Friday.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.