In the final big baseball event of the summer several Columbia County players greatly helped their scholarship chances - and, for some, their draft chances.
Playing in front of Major League Baseball and college scouts at the Second annual CSRA Prospect Showcase Baseball Game did not overwhelm the Columbia County products one bit. Eight rising Columbia County players were chosen to represent Team Georgia, while Josh Whitaker and Taylor Hensley of Augusta Christian played for Team Carolina.
Two Major League teams were on hand to check out the 6-2, 215-pound Whitaker. He played a solid game at shortstop and had two base hits, including a shot to right center off hard-throwing Brandon Barden of Lincoln County. The 6-5 225-pound Barden has committed to Virginia Tech in football, but will get serious consideration from Major League teams when the draft rolls around next June.
Hensley was also impressive, especially behind the plate, where he gunned down one of Team Georgia's fastest players attempting to steal. After the throw, several college scouts were seen making notations in their note pads.
Unfortunately for the ACS duo, Team Georgia claimed a 7-6 victory thanks in large part to the group from Columbia County. Most notable was the performance of Lakeside infielder Zach Lawson.
Lawson is a throwback-type player who is fun to watch. In the prospect showcase, he was all over the place. He went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double, scored three runs and drove in two more. For his efforts, Lawson was named Most Valuable Player for Team Georgia.
Lawson's Lakeside teammate, J.C. Huffman, also played well. Huffman was co-champion in the pre-game Home Run Derby and handled the bat well in the game with a pair of hits. He also made a terrific catch from his first base post on a foul pop near the dugout. Both those kids can, and will, play at the next level.
Mike Sanders of Harlem was his usual solid self on the mound. The right-hander carried Harlem in the post season this spring, and he had a good inning of work in the showcase event as well.
Evans right-hander Kyle Golden came into the event known mostly for his exploits on the mound, but he may have helped his cause as much as any player in the pre-game scout workout. He stunned the scouts on hand by running the second-fastest time in the 60-yard dash, in the 6.6 second range. With his size (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and speed he is a solid college prospect as either a pitcher or outfielder.
Lakeside's Matt Zelgewicz also participated in the event. Zelgewicz was solid behind the plate and has a perfect build to play catcher on the college level. If he has a big senior year he could get some looks as well.
Talented outfielder John Arena from Lakeside was not able to play due to a hamstring injury. Arena showed a lot of maturity by sitting out. He wanted to play badly, but with that type of injury and football season approaching (he's a starter for the Lakeside defense), he made the right choice.
Also, the Greenbrier duo of Brandon Cumpton and Jeff Rowland were selected to play in the game but were unable to play because they were playing in a big event in Tampa, Fla.
Cumpton did get some big news last week as he was named the 48th best high school baseball prospect in the nation by Baseball America.
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