The Georgia Bulldog baseball program had one current player and two signees selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft that concluded Wednesday evening.
Senior left-hander Andrew Gist was drafted in the ninth round by Tampa Bay while Bulldog signees Drew Waters (2nd Round, Atlanta) and Emerson Hancock (38th Round, Arizona) were taken during the 40-round draft. Waters, an ALL-USA Team outfielder from Etowah High School, is expected to sign with the Braves while Hancock, an All-State pitcher from Cairo High School, looks to be part of an eight-man recruiting class that will be freshmen on the 2018 squad.
After how the three-day MLB draft unfolded, Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin now will welcome back the entire starting lineup and two-thirds of the SEC rotation from the 2017 club plus most of the incoming recruiting class.
“We’re in good shape considering how everything went with the draft, and what we knew we had coming back for next season,” said Stricklin.
Georgia starting left fielder Keegan McGovern and starting pitcher Chase Adkins were among the underclassmen who fielded calls from prospective teams looking to draft and sign them, but in the end, these Bulldogs opted to return for their senior season. McGovern, a co-captain in 2017, has been a three-year starter, appearing in 161 games with a career batting average of .274 with 11 home runs and 73 RBI. Adkins led the 2017 staff with 14 starts, going 6-7 with a 3.95 ERA and a team-high 79.2 innings. Meanwhile, Gist went 3-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 73.1 innings.
With McGovern returning, Georgia will have 100 percent of its offensive production back. He ranked fourth on the team in bating behind freshmen Tucker Bradley (.314-0-10), Freshman All-SEC shortstop Cam Shepherd (.307-5-28) and First Team All-SEC DH/C Michael Curry (.297-10-46). With Adkins part of the staff, the Bulldogs now return 88 percent of their wins and 66 percent of their innings pitched. The SEC rotation last year featured Gist, Adkins and sophomore Kevin Smith (5-5, 4.87 ERA, 2 Saves).
The Bulldogs started as many as six freshmen position players in 2017 and 10 newcomers saw action on the mound. Georgia went 8-3 over its final 11 games of the regular season to qualify for the SEC Tournament. They claimed SEC series over No. 4 Kentucky in Lexington, No. 6 Miss. State in Athens and No. 30 South Carolina in Columbia to conclude conference play.
“You want to have good competition at every spot to push everybody to get better, and we’ll have that when this latest freshmen class arrives. They are a talented group and will add depth.”
The 2018 college baseball season opens Feb. 16.