I like to mix up my columns and not cover the same material over and over again. Former Greenbrier High School star Rich Poythress, however, is making that difficult.
What he is doing this year at the University of Georgia is nothing short of remarkable. I had a conversation Thursday morning with UGA head baseball coach Dave Perno and he had some incredible comments regarding Poythress on and off the field.
Just to catch some of you up, Poythress, now a junior with the Bulldogs, is coming off an incredible sophomore campaign in which he hit over .370 with 15 homers and 75 RBI as Georgia advanced all the way to the College World Series title game.
After a terrific summer that included being named a Rawlings National Gold Glove winner for his work at first base, Poythress also made the All-Star team in the prestigious Cape Cod League. On the heels of the great season and summer, many experts pegged Poythress as a lock for the top two or three rounds in the Major League Baseball draft, with most placing him in the top two rounds.
As the season progresses, so does Poythress' draft status. Baseball America recently dubbed the slugger one of the biggest climbers for the June Amateur Draft and stated that if he continued at his torrid 2009 pace he would be a lock for the first round. The entire area, for all the great baseball we play, has never had a first-round pick. I could think of no better person to carry that torch if it happens.
I'm not the only one impressed with Poythress' character. When asked what he thought of the year his star is having, Perno said, "I am thrilled for Rich. He has been a great player since he stepped foot in Athens, and it is a joy to watch such a complete player and person reaching his goals."
Perno added that he thinks Poythress deserves even more praise than he is getting. "No offense to any other player, but in my opinion he is the best first baseman in the country. He is a leader, an excellent fielder, he hits for average and power. He is the complete package. He is as good as I have ever coached," Perno said.
UGA is 24-3 and ranked No. 1 in the country. Poythress is putting together a national player of the year caliber season. Poythress ranks in the top three in the Southeastern Conference in the following categories:
Batting Average: .451 (first in the SEC)
Runs: 39 (second)
Hits: 42 (third)
Slugging percentage: .905 (second)
On base percentage: .552 (first)
Home Runs: 13 (second)
Runs Batted In: 47 (first)
And most impressive: Poythress has 22 walks and just 10 strikeouts all year -- wow!
Keep up the great work, Rich. Everyone back home is rooting for you.
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