With bags packed and a plane ticket booked, Brandon Love was all set for an early flight to Iowa on Thursday.
The trip was to be a consolation prize for the Burke County High School product, who wasn’t selected in this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Players’ Draft and instead had to settle for a spot on an independent minor league team in the Midwest.
But though he was overlooked once by the big league teams, he wasn’t completely forgotten. Love said the Angels contacted him just 12 hours before his flight was scheduled to leave and his immediate future was flipped upside down with just one phone call.
“It’s weird how it all happened,” Love said. “I can’t even describe it. The draft came and went and nothing happened, so that was a letdown. But then I get the call two weeks later and everything changes.”
Love signed with the Angels and changed his flight’s destination from Iowa to Arizona, where he said he’ll join the Angels’ Arizona Rookie League team that already has North Augusta High School’s Jackson Whitley on the roster as a first baseman.
“This whole thing just stopped me in my tracks and now it’s a different direction,” Love said. “But this is it. This is the dream. Now all I have to do is chase it.”
HOT START: While Whitley will get a familiar face as a teammate this week, another North Augusta High School product is finding success in the early stages of his pro career.
Marty Gantt, who played as a Yellow Jacket before moving on to Spartanburg Methodist and College of Charleston, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays and assigned to the team’s short-season squad in the New York-Penn League.
The 22-year-old went 2 for 4 in his pro debut Monday and topped the effort Tuesday with a 3 for 4 performance. He recorded at least one hit in each of his first four games and entered Sunday’s play hitting .438 with four RBI.
ALL-STAR: An announced crowd of 6,099 packed Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in Charleston, S.C. last week and saw the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division beat the Southern Division 3-2 in the all-star game.
Pitcher Cody Hall, the all-star game’s lone GreenJackets representative, retired two of the three batters he faced in a relief appearance.