Former Greenbrier High School standouts Rich Poythress and Jeff Rowland have many things in common.
They both grew up playing on the diamonds of baseball hotbed Columbia County. They each helped guide Greenbrier to state titles as seniors and are terrific young men.
They each were instant starters and leaders for big-time college programs (University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, respectively). They each earned First Team All-Conference honors this season.
Each young man has a passion for the game, and now they have each lived out boyhood dreams of being drafted by a major league team. Poythress, a first baseman, was taken with the second pick in the second round by the Seattle Mariners. Rowland, an outfielder, was selected in the 21st round by the Cleveland Indians.
Rowland hit .340 for the season and led the Yellow Jackets with 86 hits, 66 runs scored and 21 stolen bases. He also hit eight homers and drove in 39 runs despite hitting leadoff for head coach Danny Hall.
Rowland was projected as a Top 10 and possibly Top 5-round talent next season, but as a draft-eligible sophomore (he is already 21), the Indians decided to go ahead and pull the trigger.
He helped lead Georgia Tech to a 38-19-1 mark this season, and was named All-Atlantic Coast Conference for his efforts. He was the ACC Player of the Week on April 13-19, and was the catalyst for a dangerous offense.
His exploits this season came as no surprise to anyone in the Georgia Tech program. Rowland came to Atlanta after back-to-back state crowns at Greenbrier in 2006 and 2007. He also left with averages of .411 as a junior and .452 as a senior. In his final two seasons, Rowland swiped 74 bases and gained recognition as arguably the best defensive outfielder ever in the county.
Rowland is playing for the Cotuit Kettlers this summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League in Massachusetts. The league runs from June 11 until Aug. 7, and has consistently been a breeding ground for the best prospects in the country, including Poythress, who was a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer.
The Indians likely will follow his progress this summer before deciding on a final dollar amount to offer Rowland. He could potentially get an offer that is much more lucrative than the average 21st round pick in hopes of having him skip his final two seasons at Georgia Tech, where he is an All-ACC Honor Roll Student.
For Poythress, the selection in the draft was no surprise. He even figured it would be Seattle that would take him. The Mariners and Red sox showed the most interest throughout the draft process. He becomes the highest draft pick in county history after being taken 51st overall.
Poythress was on the phone with the Red Sox representatives when Seattle called his name. Boston was considering taking Poythress in the third round, but giving him late first-round money to sign.
It is likely Poythress will sign with the Mariners and skip his final season at Georgia. If he signs, he leaves the Dogs with a list of accolades that could fill a dozen columns.
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