Georgia Tech’s football staff has accepted that they may lose one of their prized recruits, Blessed Trinity safety Jake Skole, to Monday’s major-league baseball draft.
Skole is one of the state’s hottest baseball prospects after seeing his stock soar over the past month. He is projected to be selected within the draft’s top five rounds.
Tech football assistant Buzz Preston contacted Skole and his family last week to discuss the issue.
“[Preston] was kind of laughing about it,” Skoke said. “He said, ‘We’re hearing a lot of good news about you in the newspapers. Too bad it’s not the sport we’re coaching you for.’
“I’m pretty close to most of the football coaches. We have a good enough relationship where I think they would understand if I signed a pro baseball contract [if he got a generous bonus].”
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder signed a football scholarship with Tech and plans to walk on to the school’s baseball team to join his brother, All-ACC third baseman Matt Skole.
When asked about the possibility of losing Skole, Tech football recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum told the AJC, “We’re aware of the situation. Coach [Paul] Johnson is excited about coaching Jake and having him as part of the Georgia Tech family.
“We’re hoping that he will stick with football and baseball at Georgia Tech. We think he will have just as many, if not more, opportunities after he goes to school here. We know Jake will do what’s best for him and his family, and we’ll support him with whatever he decides.”
Skole’s future in pro baseball seemed bleak after he suffered a severe ankle sprain and bone bruises while racing to beat out a bunt and clipping the Alpharetta first baseman’s foot in this season’s third game. He missed the rest of the regular season with a severely sprained right ankle and bone bruises.
However, Skole recovered in time to put on a blistering display of offensive firepower during the postseason. In 14 playoff games, Skole hit .452 with six home runs and 21 RBIs. In the Class AA semifinals against Georgia’s No. 1 pitching prospect, Cook’s Kaleb Cowart (97 mph), Skole was retired on a called third strike to lead off the game. He responded with a pair of line-drive hits in his next two plate appearances against Cowart.
“He can lay one down for a bunt, then hit one over the center-field wall for a home run on a low-and-away pitch,” Blessed Trinity coach Andy Harlin said recently. “He’s just … Superman.”
Skole was asked what he would say to Tech football fans worried about the draft.
“I’m going to have to do whatever I’m called to do,” he said. “I think it’s a life-changing decision that most people would understand.
“Georgia Tech is something special, and I will follow their football and baseball teams forever … they have been a big influence on who I am, with just hanging around the campus with my brother the past two years.”
In recent weeks, Skole has had intense conversations with baseball scouts about his future. They wanted to know how committed Skole was to baseball before considering investing a high draft pick or a large signing bonus.
“Up until a few months ago, if you had asked Jake which sport he preferred, he’d say football,” said his father, Mike Skole. “But with the draft so close, it came to the point where we had to convince these guys that he was ready to put the football helmet down and get after it on the baseball field.”
However, funny things can happen in the baseball draft, therefore the Skole camp remains committed to college until the draft unfolds. Said Mike, “I told Coach Preston, as far as we’re concerned right now we are geared up to start classes in July and play football and baseball at Georgia Tech.”
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Note: According to major-league scouts, this projects to be one of the strongest classes for Georgia high school players in years. Here are some other top prospects for the the June 7 draft: