Ringgold's Matt Crownover, who just finished his sophomore season at Clemson, was selected in Saturday's Major League Baseball annual player draft by the San Francisco Giants.
The left-handed pitcher will be returning to Clemson where he expects to again be the Tigers' Friday night starter for weekend conference match-ups.
It is unusual for a college sophomore at a four-year school to be drafted. However, the rule says junior year or 21 years old.
"We held him back a year before he started school because he had an eye problem and a pretty severe speech impediment," said Crownover's father David in explaining the situation.
Also selected Saturday were Calhoun's Mott Hyde, a former Best of Preps player of the year and most recently a second baseman at Georgia Tech and Tennessee Wesleyan right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson.
A senior, Hyde was taken in the 26th round by the Houston Astros. He hit .282 with four homers, three triples and 12 doubles this past season. Wilson was picked in the 20th round by San Diego. Viewed as a reliever, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder started five games and posted a 6-2 record for the year with five saves and an opponents' batting average of .186.
Major league clubs knew that Crownover should command second-round or at least second-day (rounds 3-10) money. The Giants took a chance although the vibe, according to David, had been the fifth or sixth round.
"We told the scouts it would have to be something extraordinary," David said.
Crownover, if he returns as planned to school, would be eight hours shy of a degree following the upcoming fall and spring semesters. He would also be a junior.
"Matt's made the dean's list every semester at Clemson and he has a good legacy there already. He wants to play pro baseball but he also has a future in [college] coaching. If Plan A doesn't work out, he'll always have Plan B," David said.
A freshman All-American, Matt also won the team's Tiger [leadership] award last year, his first at Clemson.
Crownover, who had Tommy John surgery during his senior year at Ringgold, is taking Dr. James Andrews' advice and won't be playing summer ball.
"The advice was to throw only 20 percent more the second year after the first year. He pitched 70 innings last year and already has pitched 99 this year," David said.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...