Former Greenbrier star Rich Poythress is building off a solid freshman season at the University of Georgia. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound infielder is plastered all over the statistical leaderboard for the Coastal Plains League.
The league is one of the nation's premier college summer leagues, featuring some of the most talented underclassmen in the nation. This also is a wood-bat league that allows scouts to see what these hitters can do without the benefit of the aluminum bats in their hands.
So far, Poythress has passed this test with flying colors. He leads the league in six offensive categories for the first half of the season: home runs (11), runs batted in (40), walks (29), slugging percentage (.647), total bases (90) and runs (37).
He also was third in the league with a .444 on-base percentage and had 50 hits, 15 doubles and a .331 batting average. He led Thomasville to a 27-12 mark and a West Division first-half title.
The team is 10-4 in the second half, which also leads the West Division. He helped lead the National All-Stars to a 9-3 win over the American All-Stars in the Coastal Plains All-Star Game this month.
In the all-star game, Poythress was 0-for-1 with a walk but scored two runs. He has made himself the favorite for league MVP honors and has certainly turned the heads of big-league scouts.
Five players from last summer's Thomasville team were selected in the 2007 Major League Baseball draft, and it appears Poythress is positioning himself for a place in the 2009 draft.
Armstrong also performing well
Although former Evans standout Mike Armstrong is not putting up the individual numbers of Poythress, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Mercer Bear is having a solid summer as well.
Armstrong has helped guide the Fayetteville Swampdogs to one of the best summers of any college summer league team in the nation. The Swamp Dogs finished the first half with an impressive 32-9 record (tops in the Coastal Plains League), and they are 9-4 in the second half.
Fayetteville was ranked No. 3 of all college summer league teams in Perfect Game's last top 16 ranking. The only other Coastal Plains team to be ranked was Poythress' Thomasville HiToms, which came in at No. 15. Armstrong hit .288 for the first half of the season with one home run and 15 RBI.
Belcher back in the swing of things
In June 2004, Jordan Belcher was fresh off a magical season.
He hit an astonishing .579 and tied a county record with 18 home runs.
For his efforts, he captured the Augusta area and the Columbia County Player of the Year honors.
He finished his career with 41 home runs and 124 RBI. That same month he was selected in the 41st round by the Cincinnati Reds.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Belcher was in the Reds organization for a couple of seasons but was eventually released.
This season, he has turned up refreshed and apparently ready to go. Belcher is playing for the El Paso Diablos of the Independent American Association.
Through 60 games he stands second on the Diablos' roster with a .317 batting average. He has managed only one home run but does have 16 doubles and 33 RBI.
The Diablos are currently 1.5 games behind Fort Worth in the second half South Division standings at 9-6. Hopefully Belcher can make his way back to a major league organizations soon.
Also in professional baseball news, former Greenbrier star James Shanks played briefly in the American Association with the Sioux Falls Canaries.
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