Before they were Braves: six locals from this spring

Six of the Braves’ 70 players in big-league camp this spring played at metro Atlanta high schools. Here’s a quick look at the baseball success of each before he turned pro:

Nick Markakis, Woodstock HS (Class of 2001)

He was drafted three times. First as a 6-foot-1, 160-pound left-handed pitcher coming out of high school, when the Reds drafted him in the 35th round.

Markakis to enroll at Young Harris College, where he pitched and played the outfield. In Markakis’ first season at Young Harris he was Baseball America’s 2002 National Junior College Player of the Year. That year he was drafted again by the Reds, in the 23rd round, but chose to stay in school.

In two seasons, he hit .439 with 21 homers and 92 RBIs and was 12-0, with one save and a 1.68 ERA.

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After those two seasons, the Orioles drafted him with the seventh pick of the first round.

Jeff Francoeur, Parkview HS (2002)

Francoeur lived one of metro Atlanta’s legendary high school athletic careers. He was a football and baseball superstar at Parkview, signing to play football at Clemson in February 2002 and four months later signing with the Braves after they drafted him with the 21st pick in the draft. His bonus was reported to be $2.2 million.

As a senior he hit .487 with 16 homers, 49 RBIs and 51 runs scored. He hit four homers in the state championship series against Lassiter. The series was a doubleheader sweep by Parkview, and Francoeur was the winning pitcher in both games.

In his Parkview career, he hit .443 with 55 home runs, 134 RBIs and 159 runs scored.

Tyler Flowers, Blessed Trinity HS (2004)

After his career at Blessed Trinity, Flowers played one season at Chipola Junior College before he was drafted by the Braves in the 33rd round (1,007th overall) in 2005. The Braves drafted him in the 27th round the year before.

He hit .518 as a senior at Blessed Trinity, with eight homers and 35 RBIs. He signed with Georgia, but chose to attend Chipola, which made him eligible for the MLB draft sooner.

In the first round of the state playoffs in 2004, Flowers was 6-for-6 with two homers and eight RBIs in a doubleheader sweep.

Gordon Beckham, Westminster (2005)

Beckham, whose father-in-law is Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher, played three seasons for the Georgia Bulldogs. He was drafted by the White Sox in the first round (eighth overall) in 2008.

That season as the Bulldogs’ shortstop he ranked tied for first among Division I players in home runs and second in runs scored. In the 2008 College World Series, he hit .522 with two homers and five RBIs and was chosen to the all-CWS team. That season he hit .411 with 28 homers and 77 RBIs and was voted SEC player of the year and first-team All-American.

While Beckham is a Bulldog, his grandfather is Henry “Hank” McCamish, for whom Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion is named.

Lucas Sims, Brookwood HS (2012)

A non-roster invitee to Braves camp this year, Sims was the first-round pick of Braves (21st overall) in 2012. Sims had committed to play baseball at Clemson, but the Braves offered him a $1.65 million signing bonus, and by the next week he was in Orlando, joining the Gulf Coast Braves rookie team.

Sims was 8-1 as a senior at Brookwood, and the only loss was to Parkview in the first game of the championship doubleheader in Class AAAAA, then the state’s highest classification.

Entering that game Sims had recorded a 1.09 ERA for the season and was the consensus choice for the top pitching prospect in Georgia.

Dansby Swanson, Marietta HS (2012)

Another non-roster invitee, Swanson was the 38th-round pick of Colorado in 2012 draft, but he chose to attend Vanderbilt, the only major college to offer him a scholarship.

He played three seasons for the Commodores and became the first pick of the 2015 draft, by Arizona.

The Braves acquired him from the Diamondbacks in December 2015 in the trade that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona.

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