Major baseball prospects sign on at Tech, Georgia

Baseball took center stage in the state on Tuesday as both Georgia and Georgia Tech received signed letters-of-intent from major prospects during the early signing period.

The Yellow Jackets won out in a battle over Tatnall Square Academy baseball and football star DeAndre Smelter. Smelter is a 6-2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher with a 90-plus-mile-and-hour fastball. Obviously he is expected to be high draft pick in next June’s Amateur Baseball Draft.

“No matter what happens (with the draft), I know I have a home at Georgia Tech,” Smelter told the Macon Telegraph. “You can do anything in life with a degree from Georgia Tech.”

Smelter, the Telegraph’s 2008 Male Athlete of the Year, gave up football this season to concentrate on baseball.

Georgia also got a football star to play baseball. Conor Welton has quarterbacked undefeated Wesleyan into second round of the GHSA Class A state football playoffs and a state championship last year. But he signed a baseball scholarship with the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-, 190-pound senior is a left-handed hitting outfielder who has also helped the Wolves win two baseball state championships. He is the son of former Georgia football player Chris Welton, who played on the Bulldogs’ 1980 national championship team.

“Georgia is one of the top baseball programs in the country, and my goal is to win a national championship as my father did in football,” Welton said.

The crowned jewel of the Bulldogs’ baseball recruiting class is pitcher Drew Cisco of Mt. Pleasant, S.C. The 6-foot-2 right-hander is ranked among the top 25 high school draft prospects in the country by Baseball America. He has posted a 20-6 record and 1.61 ERA with233 strikeouts in 169.3 innings pitched in three seasons at Wando High.

“Drew is one of the biggest highlights of this recruiting class, and he’s going to be a part of our rotation very early in his career,” Georgia baseball coach Dave Perno said.

Other Georgia baseball signees include:

  • Ralston Cash, a 6-3, 205-pound right-hander from Cornelia. He posted a 9-0 record with a 0.97 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 57.2 innings for the Lakeview Academy Lions and also batted .466 with nine home runs and 48 RBI as the cleanup hitter.
  • Jeff Shields, a 6-3, 207-pound right-hander from Lawrenceville. Shields is a sophomore at Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) Community College after a standout prep career at Central Gwinnett. He  went 2-1 with five saves and a 5.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched and batted .306-3-29 in 46 games overall to help the Pirates to a 39-19 record.
  • Caleb Bryson, a 6-1, 195-pound utility player, is a three-sport standout for Thomas County Central High School. As a junior, he batted .476 with a team-high 12 home runs and 42 RBI while playing third base, first base, left field and catcher.
  • James Garner, a 5-11, 150-pound left-handed pitcher from Loganville. As a junior Garner went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched.
  • Jonathan Hester, a 6-3, 195-pound right-handed hitter from Savannah, plays third base at Middle Georgia College. He batted .330 with 12 home runs as MGC advanced to the Junior College World Series.

Other Tech baseball signings:

  • Chevez Clarke, a 6-foot, 185-pound outfielder from Marietta, is a switch-hitter that batted .300 last year and is considered the No. 5 recruit in Georgia.
  • Mott Hyde, 6-foot-, 180 from Resaca (Calhoun High), is considered one of the best middle infielders in the country. He it .550 with 20 home runs, 10 doubles and 57 RBI in 2009.
  • Daniel Palka, a 6-2, 190-pound left-handed pitcher and outfielder from Lyman, S.C., is rated the No. 2 recruit in South Carolina.
  • Alex Lavisky is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound catcher from Cleveland, Ohio, who hit .481 as a junior.
  • Chris Triplett is a 5-11, 178-pound middle infielder from Sandy Creek High and the rated the No. 17 player in Georgia.
    MIF | S/R | 5-11 | 178 | Fayetteville, Ga. (Sandy Creek)
  • Chase Butler, a 6-foot, 185-pound third baseman from Rome, batted .486 with eight home runs and 35 RBI and was 6-0 with a 0.38 ERA for Darlington.
  • Matthew Grimes is a powerful 6-foot-5, 185-pound right-hander from Mill Creek High in Hoschton.
  • Dusty Isaacs, a 6-1, 190-pound right-hander from Lebanon, Ohio, struck out 61 batters in 41 innings and hit .457 at the plate.
  • Alexander Cruz, a 6-2, 187-pound middle infielder from Woodstock, is the third baseball player to join Tech from Blessed Trinity in Roswell. He joins sophomore Matt Skole and football/baseball commitment Jake Skole.
  • Jonathan Roberts is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-handed pitcher from Fayetteville that is rated the No. 29 recruit in Georgia.
  • Paul Kronenfeld, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder and first baseman, comes to Tech from Greensboro, N.C., where he hit .438 with seven homers and 53 RBI the last two seasons.
    OF/1B | L-R | 6-3 | 190 | Greensboro, N.C. (Woodberry Forest (Va.))
  • Zane Evans is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound catcher and right-handed pitcher from Roswell and a 2009 Under Armour All-American.
  • Kyle Wren, a 6-foot, 165-pound, left-handed outfielder from Peachtree City, is the son of Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren.
  • Brad Markey, a 5-10, 170-pound middle infielder and pitcher, comes to Tech from Bel Air, Md.
  • Conner Kendrick, a 6-1, 165-pound left-hander from Sharpsburg, had an 11-1 record and 1.68 ERA while leading Northgate High to the Class AAAA state title last year.
  • Devin Stanton, a 6-foot lefthander from Lilburn, has won two state titles in baseball and one in football while playing at Wesleyan.
  • Will West is a 6-foot-2 left-hander from Tallahassee, Fla., who spent summers playing baseball for the East Cobb Astros.

Other early-period signings:


Georgia signed Nathan Eisenman of Conyers; Melanie Margalis of Clearwater, Fla.; and Christian Riess of New Orleans.

Woodstock High’s Morgan Johnson signed with James Madison.


Lilly Kimbell, a 5-7 native of Vancouver, Wash., signed with Georgia. Kimbell now residesin Texas where she trains and has a combined ranking of No. 3 in the USTA Girls 18s.


Lindsey Bryant of North Forsyth signed with Carson-Newman College. She is a 6-foot outside hitter and led her team with 433 kills.


Four players signed with Georgia Southern: Marvin Baynham, a 6-7 forward from Miami; Tre Bussey, a 6-3 guard from Lithia Springs; Eric Ferguson, a 6-8 forward from Statesboro by way of the Winchendon (Mass.) School; and Sam Mike, a 6-8 forward from Decatur.

24 comments Add your comment

Top Dawg

November 18th, 2009
6:37 am


November 18th, 2009
7:25 am

Lilly Kimbell sounds like the jewel of this article!

Joe Blow

November 18th, 2009
7:28 am

You know its bad when UGA has to start changing the subject to baseball because the football team is so pathetic. 45-19!

Simply a dawg

November 18th, 2009
8:01 am

put a sock in it Joe


November 18th, 2009
8:20 am

Smelter is going to be in the majors in 3 years


November 18th, 2009
8:27 am

Is DeAndre the only player Tech signed? I know it pains you Chip to write about Tech, but you can still be a professional at your job. Oh that’s right you work for the ajc what was I thinking. You are a joke of a journalist.


November 18th, 2009
8:50 am

It seems that Tennessee has had yet another freshman football player find himself in trouble with the law in recent days. Safety Nyshier Oliver was cited on November 7th for shoplifting at a Knoxville mall.

Oliver was spotted putting a shirt worth approximately $110 into a Dillard’s bag. He was cited at 1:45pm on that Saturday… just five hours before UT was to play Memphis in their homecoming game.

Oliver was removed from the Volunteers’ dress roster and given some form of internal discipline.

That’s four issues in a week’s time and all involved members of Kiffin’s first signing class.

He will appear in court on November 23rd.

A shoplifting charge is relatively small potatoes when compared to the attempted armed robbery charges brought against three Tennessee freshmen last week.

But once again there seems to be an issue with Lane Kiffin’s comments.

Last Wednesday, during the SEC coaches’ teleconference, Kiffin — with no prodding from the media — brought up the impact that Ed Orgeron has had on discipline at Tennessee.

He stated that Tennessee had not had a player arrested in 11 months. I can understand the bad timing of three players being arrested the very next day, but the fact of the matter is, Kiffin knew that he was fudging the truth a bit on that one.


November 18th, 2009
8:56 am

james clay garner has some great GENES, his grandpa was an all star major league pitcher in the 60’s

Chip Towers

November 18th, 2009
9:46 am

chatter: I love writing about Tech. I had received info on all the UGA baseball signees in a release and provided them here. I hadn’t gotten anything from Tech at the time and actually ran across Smelter’s signing on the Macon website. Probably should’ve check the Tech website at the time but didn’t. But every signee is represented now. Hope that makes you feel better. Thanks for dropping in.


November 18th, 2009
9:57 am

chatter, you’re a joke of a blogger. Get over whatever hangups you have about UGA and realize that Chip is doing a great thing for ALL these kids by giving them recognition for their acheivements thus far. Thanks for the info CT, nice to read about something other than football. Congrats to all these student athletes. And I really liked DeAndre’s comment about being able to do anything with a degree from Tech, kid’s got his head on straight. Hope he follows thru on that.


November 18th, 2009
10:29 am

Chip, how does Tech sign 17 players..thought the scholly limit was around 12-15..Must’ve chopped them up…1/2,1/3,maybe 1/4!

the only good dawg is a dead dawg

November 18th, 2009
10:31 am

Conner Kendrick, a 6-1, 1265-pound left-hander from Sharpsburg, had an 11-1 record and 1.68 ERA while leading Northgate High to the Class AAAA state title last year.

Kendrick sounds like one behemouth of a pitcher. Can’t wait to see him on the mound, the whole f****ng mound!

reality check

November 18th, 2009
11:00 am

Leave Chip alone “chatter”. Isn’t it obvious he just listed Tech’s whole roster? I have never seen so many recruits in one year for one team. They are turning over the whole roster. I commend Chip for his reporting and giving each recruit a mention. Go DAWGS!


November 18th, 2009
11:04 am

Smelter is an absolute beast…its a shame he wont ever see the field for tech. I can never really get excited for baseball recruiting and signings….because we also lose like 4 or 5 people to the draft. GT has one of the top classes right now but theres no telling where it will end up after the draft….oh well I guess its better than the one and done deal in basketball.

Chip Towers

November 18th, 2009
11:06 am

Worm: Yes, very few college baseball players get a full scholly. Only 11 for entire team.

Chip Towers

November 18th, 2009
11:35 am

11.7 to be exact


November 18th, 2009
12:13 pm

What the crap is a middle infielder? 2nd base? shortstop?

richard cranium

November 18th, 2009
12:22 pm

This is an unbelievable class signed by CDH at GT. We are not sure if they will all be at GT after the draft, but even if we lose 2 or 3, this class will still carry GT to the World Series.

Clearly the best class in 12 years.

Innocent Bystander

November 18th, 2009
2:45 pm

Worm- I believe Mark Teixeira was one of the very few to ever receive a full baseball scholarship from Tech. Most get half, quarter, etc.

bballfan man

November 21st, 2009
7:00 am

Chip, you left out Brandon Stephens, the All-American catcher from Lassiter High School. He’s on the Dawg website


November 23rd, 2009
7:08 am

I dred next weekend…. you GT fans are going to be all over these posts……………..

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