Major League Baseball went after speed from Augusta on the second day of its annual First-Year Player Draft.
Augusta native Keltavious Jones and Greenbrier's Rafeal Parks were chosen in part for their abilities to sprint around the bases. Greenbrier graduate and USC-Aiken product Nick Wandless was drafted because he can throw a baseball up to 93 mph.
Jones has been timed under 6.5 seconds in the 60-yard dash. Parks said he's been clocked at 6.54 seconds at that distance.
Jones was the 804th pick in the 27th round by the Cincinnati Reds. He spent the past year at Darton College in Albany, Ga.
He left Butler after his sophomore year to attend North Point Academy. He transferred to Wyman King Academy in South Carolina after financial problems closed North Point's doors. Jones then signed a letter-of-intent to attend Georgia Southern, but never enrolled. He was at Chipola Junior College before enrolling at Darton.
"Been a long road," said Charles Turner, his stepfather. "But he loves baseball. Lives and breathes it. When he's not playing, the only time you see him watching TV is when baseball is on."
Parks was the top area high school pick. He played right field and hit ninth for the Class AAAA state champions. He's got a live arm and has touched 88 mph on the radar gun.
"The most fun part of the game for me is when a pop fly is hit to me in the outfield," Parks said. "When someone tries to tag up and take an extra base. I love the chance to cut a runner down."
He was selected by the Houston Astros with the 879th pick of the draft in the 29th round. Parks didn't start playing baseball until he was 12.
"He's a great kid who works hard that's gotten better every year," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said. "He's starting to realize his potential. His potential to me is a few years down the road. He's got a lot of natural talent and if it all ever comes together and clicks for him he would be something else."
Parks said the Astros told him he was a draft-and-follow selection. Houston would hold his rights and monitor his development while he attended college next year. That's the likely option as Parks is considering USC Salkehatchie in Allendale, S.C.
Williams said Wandless was a similar talent at Greenbrier years ago. Wandless never pitched until his junior year in high school.
He was selected Wednesday in the 36th round by the Reds. He flew to Cincinnati last week to work out for the team.
He had a hunch they would select him.
"My heart sagged every time the rounds went by and the Reds didn't pick me," Wandless said, who followed the draft all day online. "But it shot up in the 36th round. I pointed at the computer screen and told my mom 'Hey, that's my name!'"
Wandless was named a first-team Division II All-American this year.
Evans outfielder Shawn Ward was taken in the 47th round by the Seattle Mariners.
USC Aiken catcher Robert Davis was selected by the San Francisco Giants. The former Greenbrier player went in the 50th round.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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