Major-league teams extend lovefest with Georgia players

Major-league baseball's lovefest with Georgia's high school talent carried into Tuesday's second day of the amateur draft.

Five more Georgia prep standouts were selected in the second and third rounds, including Fayette County shortstop Niko Goodrum at No. 71 by the Minnesota Twins and Lakeview Academy pitcher Ralston Cash at No. 78 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On Monday, Georgia was the talk of the baseball world after five high schoolers were drafted in the first round.

"It's an honor to be first player out of Georgia taken because there's so much talent around here," said Woodward Academy's Delino DeShields, picked No. 8 overall by the Houston Astros.

"We all knew we had some good ballplayers in this state, but now everybody else does, too. Now it's time for all of us to go out there and represent the state of Georgia well [on the way to the majors]."

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In the college ranks, Georgia Tech had nine players drafted Tuesday, along with four incoming recruits. All-ACC shortstop Derek Dietrich was chosen No. 79 by the Tampa Bay Rays. Meanwhile, Georgia had three players drafted, led by pitcher Justin Grimm at No. 166 to the Texas Rangers.

Skole ready for Rangers

Blessed Trinity's Jake Skole confirmed that he hopes to sign with the Texas Rangers as early as this weekend. He was drafted at No. 15 and is flying with six family members -- including older brother and All-ACC third baseman Matt Skole of Georgia Tech -- to Texas on Wednesday to meet with team officials.

"Yes, I think we're close to signing," Skole said. "By the time I get down there and figure everything out, I should be ready by the end of next week or so to go wherever they send me."

Skole signed a football scholarship with Tech in February and spoke with coach Paul Johnson late Monday night. Skole has decided to bypass football after his early selection.

"Coach Johnson was real nice about it and congratulated me," Skole said. "He understands that it's a special situation. He was first class, and as happy for me as any of my friends and family.

Hawkins with brother

North Gwinnett third baseman Chris Hawkins, who finished his senior season on a 32-game hitting streak, was selected at No. 93 by the Toronto Blue Jays. Even better for Hawkins, he got the news while hanging out with his older brother. Steve Hawkins, 21, is an Army corporal and returned last week from a one-year stint in Afghanistan.

"We're very close, and he may have been more excited about everything than me, if that's possible," Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he was undecided whether to sign with the Blue Jays or go to Tennessee on a baseball scholarship.

Cowart ready to fish

Cook third baseman Kaleb Cowart said he talked over the phone with the Los Angeles Angels' two other first-round picks from Georgia, East Coweta pitcher Cam Bedrosian and Marietta outfielder Chevez Clarke.

Cowart said the Angels offered to fly him to Los Angeles to meet with the team officials and media. "They mentioned it, but I'm going to wait for now because we're still in negotiations."

The Los Angeles Times said that Cowart (No. 18 overall) reportedly is seeking a signing bonus of $3 million to bypass his Florida State baseball scholarship. Cowart politely declined to discuss figures Tuesday, saying, "I think everything is going smoothly. We'll probably see closer to [the Aug. 16] deadline how things work out."

How were the first 24 hours after Monday's draft for Cowart? "Overwhelming. It has been great, and [the attention] is a good problem to have. But it's a little overwhelming, and I'm ready to go fishing."

DeShields wows Astros

DeShields made quite the impression in last week's private workout for the Astros.

"For those of us who didn't get a chance to see him [in games], to see the package here just validated what our guys said about him," Astros general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle. "This is a kid with a power bat and a plus-run tool that if he can make the transition to second base, it's going to be very special for us."

Many mock drafts had DeShields going to the Astros, but with the team's second first-round pick at No. 19. Said Houston official Bobby Heck, "We knew he wasn’t getting to 19, but it wasn’t a strategic thing, his talent warranted his selection at No. 8, and we were very happy to select him there."

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