Brian Bratton had a pretty good high-school career at Lakeside, but few could have predicted the success he has enjoyed so far in college football.
The former Panther now is a junior at Furman University. He was an instant hit with the Paladins as a freshman, averaging an amazing 37 yards on kickoff returns, including three for touchdowns - the average and number of scoring returns led the nation that year in Division 1-AA.
Through two games this season, it's apparent that Furman is relying heavily on Bratton in 2003. The Paladins opened with a 24-7 win over Elon, and played well during a 24-7 defeat last weekend at Clemson.
In those games, Bratton had seven catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. His yardage, touchdowns and average (17.4 yards per catch) were team-leading totals.
To get Bratton more touches, Furman is letting him run the ball some this season. He has totaled 73 yards on 12 carries, and notched a three-yard touchdown run against Clemson. Bratton also accounted for the Paladins' other score on the Tigers when he hauled in a 20-yard pass.
Furman was off this weekend, and the team will return to action Saturday when Richmond visits Paladin Stadium in Greenville, S.C.
Shanks headed to Arizona
Former Columbia County prep baseball standout James Shanks put together another solid season in the Kansas City Royals farm system.
The 6-foot, 180-pound speedster hit .301, and despite playing in just 85 games, Shanks still managed 104 hits and 21 stolen bases.
Those of you who remember Shanks from his days at Greenbrier High School may still think of him as a youngster, but at 24, Shanks is no spring chicken in minor-league baseball.
The good news is that Shanks may be close to punching his ticket to the big leagues. He has been invited to play in the Arizona Fall League, and that usually is a stepping stone to the majors.
That fact was made crystal clear last fall. A list of the league's top players from a year ago is basically a who's who of the current crop of top major-league rookies.
Following is a rundown (excluding pitchers) of the leading stars from the 2002 fall league, their statistics and current status in the majors:
Ken Harvey - .479 average, seven home runs, 34 RBIs - the Fall League MVP is now a starter for Kansas City.
Hee Seop Choi - .345 average, eight home runs, 17 RBIs - starts for the Chicago Cubs.
Mark Teixiera - .333 average, seven home runs, 23 RBIs - starts for Texas.
Rocco Baldelli - .308 average, two home runs, 19 RBIs - starts for Tampa.
Chase Utley - .308 average, four home runs, 23 RBIs - starts for Philadelphia.
Lane Nix - .300 average (limited number of games) - starts for Texas.
Eric Munson - .400 average (limited number of games) - starts for Detroit.
Brandon Phillips - .248 average, four home runs, 20 RBIs - starts for Cleveland.
Judging by those players, if Shanks performs well in Arizona, he could be roaming the outfield for the Royals sometime in 2004.
Kansas City's starting center fielder is Carlos Beltran, a talented player, but more of a true left fielder. Plus, he is eligible for arbitration this year and may not be back with the Royals next spring.
In any event, we should know before Christmas where Shanks stands in the Royals organization.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.