9 local players selected in MLB draft



NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Nine North Fulton athletes were selected in last week’s Major League Baseball amateur draft, among them two sons of former Atlanta Braves players.

The group included two high school seniors and seven collegians, including a pair of Clemson teammates and one each from Georgia Tech, Florida State and Kennesaw State.

The first local athlete selected was recently graduated Milton senior Dylan Cease, who went in the sixth round to the Chicago Cubs with the 169th overall pick.

Cease, considered one of the hardest throwers among the country’s high school prospects, was projected to go earlier in the draft, but suffered an elbow injury early in the season and was limited to 12 innings on the mound.

Cease helped lead Milton to the state championship as a junior and served as a designated hitter this season. He has signed a college scholarship with Vanderbilt.

Alpharetta’s Brandon Leibrandt, the son of former Atlanta Braves player Charlie Leibrandt, was also picked in the third round, three spots after Cease.

Leibrandt, a junior left-hander at Florida State, also was sidelined for much of the 2014 season by injuries, going 4-1 with a 1.83 earned run average in six starts.

Leibrandt, who helped pitch Marist to back-to-back state championships in 2010 and ’11, was a combined 18-7 as a freshman and sophomore at Florida State.

Former Northview pitcher Matt Campbell went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth round after four years as a reliever at Clemson. Campbell enjoyed an outstanding senior season for the Tigers, going 4-0 with an 0.84 ERA and eight saves, striking out 45 batters in 32 innings.

Jay Baum, a teammate of Campbell at Clemson, was selected in the 21st round by Seattle. Baum, who starred in high school at Centennial, has started at a number of positions during his three seasons at Clemson, and was selected as a shortstop. Baum batted .293 for Clemson as a junior this past season, driving in 29 runs and starting all of the team’s 61 games.

Dustin Beggs, who played with Baum at Centennial, was a 17th round selection by St. Louis out of Georgia Perimeter College.

Beggs enjoyed an exceptional sophomore season at the junior college level, compiling an 11-4 record with five saves and a 1.65 ERA. In 104 innings, Beggs notched 125 strikeouts and issued only 13 walks.

Roswell’s Daniel Spingola, a starter in the outfield this season as a junior at Georgia Tech, was picked in the 24th round by the Cubs. After playing in a reserve role in his first two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Spingola took over as the starter in center field as a junior.

He led the team in hits (82), triples (8), runs (45), stolen bases (15), batting average (.319) and slugging percentage (.451). His 36 RBI were one shy of sharing the team lead. Spingola was a teammate of Leibrandt on Marist’s 2010 and ’11 state champions.

Former Milton pitcher Tyler Carpenter was a 25th round pick by the Angels after a strong senior season at Georgia Gwinnett College. Carpenter, who began his college career at Columbus State, was 8-2 with a 2.43 ERA for the NAIA college team, striking out 98 batters in 104 innings.

Roswell’s James Connell, who helped pitch Kennesaw State into the NCAA Super Regionals, was selected by the Angels in the 26th round. Connell was one of the Owls’ two primary relievers his senior season, going 7-4 with a 2.49 ERA and two saves. He appeared in 36 games and pitched 47 innings, striking out 66 batters.

Connell graduated from Roswell High School, but did not play for the Hornets his junior and senior seasons, competing in the Roswell Recreation Department league before pitching for LaGrange College as a freshman.

Connell pitched briefly at Georgia Perimeter College as a sophomore before joining the Owls for the 2012 season. He was 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA in 14 innings before his season was ended by injury and he was awarded a fifth year of eligibility.

Connell was 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and seven saves as a junior, and drew the attention of pro scouts with a big senior season.

The final local player selected was Grayson Byrd of King’s Ridge, who went to the Atlanta Braves in the 38th round. Paul Byrd, Grayson’s father, pitched for the Braves and does radio work for the team.

Grayson Byrd was one of the stars on King’s Ridge state championship team, starting at shortstop. He has signed a college scholarship to play at LSU.


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