Baseball Hotbeds: Georgia's A Training Ground For Players
Live in Georgia for long, and the distinctions between North Georgia and South Georgia quickly become clear. Much of North Georgia sits on the Piedmont, a series of mildly rolling hills, while South Georgia is much flatter. Middle and South Georgia also lies below the “gnat line” where swarms of tiny buzzing pests hover around anyone and everyone on warm summer nights.
But for scouts and recruiting coordinators surveying the state for talent, there’s another line. Draw a circle around Atlanta and its multitudinous suburbs and exurbs. Inside that line, you’ll find the area where any scout will spend almost all their time during the spring and summer.
Georgia is one of the most productive states in the country for producing pro baseball players. But while the state produces top-notch football players from almost every city and county, the state’s baseball talent largely resides within 50 miles of downtown Atlanta.
A Georgia area scout estimated that 90 percent of his time scouting high school players in the state is spent in the Atlanta metro area and its suburbs.
“You can turn over stones and find players in South Georgia, Statesboro, Macon and Augusta. (But) you can go to an (Atlanta-area) 6-A high school game and you’ll see someone throwing 90 (mph) even if you haven’t ID’d them as a prospect,” the scout said. “You can find good players by going to a random high school game.”
A second scout notes that Atlanta is also an area where young black players are represented on baseball fields to a level beyond what is the case in other metro areas. Jason Heyward, Brandon Phillips and Daz Cameron are a few of the examples of Atlanta-area African-Americans who have had draft and pro success.
“You can go to a number of different high schools within close proximity of Atlanta where minority players are playing baseball at a high skill level,” the scout said.
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Players in the Atlanta area also are sure to be seen by numerous high-level evaluators. The Atlanta airport is one of the busiest in the country, so it’s easy for scouting directors, college baseball coaches and front office officials to easily get in and out on a scouting trip. Also, the number of strong summer travel teams led by the long-time power that is the East Cobb travel teams and Perfect Game’s outstanding Lake Point facility ensures that players get plenty of experience facing challenging competition.
“More kids are able to play really competitive baseball all summer,” the scout said. Georgia also has the second-highest percentage of pro players who sign out of high school of the 50 states. So unlike many top players in Texas or California, scouts watching top players in Georgia know there is a good chance they will sign out of high school.