Mariners take ex-Greenbrier star

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Rich Poythress

Rich Poythress' phone couldn't keep up with the calls that began flooding in from teams as the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft wrapped up Tuesday night.

With teams checking in on availability and signability, the Seattle Mariners grabbed the Greenbrier High School product with the 51st overall pick and the second pick in the second round.

"It was a crazy last 10 minutes for me," Poythress said via phone. "Seattle had (picks) 27 and 33, but then I had the Red Sox calling about first-round money in the third round, but the Mariners pulled the trigger when I was on the phone."

The uncertainty ended when former Mariners star Jay Buhner announced Poythress at draft headquarters in Secaucus, N.J.

Poythress, who just wrapped up his junior year as a Georgia Bulldog, said he was surrounded by family and friends at a teammate's house in Lake Oconee.

"I was on the phone when my name was called, but I heard my mom react, and it was amazing," he said. "It's a lifelong dream to get here, and now it's just a stepping stone to playing in the big leagues."

The Grovetown native was a four-year starter that helped Greenbrier win the Class AAAA baseball state championship in 2006 as a third baseman.

"Those years with Greenbrier and (then) coach Ed Williams made a huge foundation for everything that's happened," he said. "There was a winning tradition there. You learned how to win and how to play postseason baseball."

Williams, who coached his final year at Greenbrier during Poythress' senior season, made a congratulatory phone call to his former player Tuesday night.

"It's exciting. There's not anyone that deserves the opportunity as much as Rich does," Williams said. "As good as he was as a freshman, he just kept getting better."

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

RICH POYTHRESS FILE

Position: First base/third base

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-foot-4/245

COLLEGE HIGHLIGHTS: He led Georgia in batting (.376), hits (89), runs scored (69), doubles (17), home runs (25) and RBI (86) this season and helped it reach the College World Series finals in 2008.

EXTRAS: Was part of the Columbia County Recreation Department's 11-12 year olds that won the Dixie Baseball World Series Championship in '02. ... Played in Cape Cod Summer League All-Star game last year after leading the Orleans FireBirds in hitting (.311).

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