The 2019 MLB Draft commenced last month, and the Georgia Baseball team heard the names of eight players from the 2019 team that finished (46-17) this season. Today we will take a look at where those guys are and how they've adjusted in their new environments.
Aaron Schunk, 3B (2nd Round, Colorado Rockies)
Schunk was the first Bulldog off the board last month and for good reason. He raked in his last season with the Dawgs, hitting .339 with 15 jacks and a team-high 58 RBI. The Rockies also got a plus arm on the mound if they ever needed it. Schunk often closed for the Bulldogs this season, holding opponents to an abysmal .190 batting average, and logged (12) saves.
We caught up with Aaron and asked what his key to success was this season for Georgia:
"The biggest key to success was attacking every day with a chip on our shoulder. We didn’t get where we wanted last year so the minute we finished that season, it was time to prepare harder than ever for the next. I focused on bettering every part of my game in order to help us get back to a regional and hopefully further."
Aaron won't be doing much pitching in the foreseeable future because the guy is flat out raking already in Single-A Ball. Schunk is playing for the Boise Hawks, the Rockies short-season team, and is hitting .324 with 2 HRs in just (71) at-bats.
And he's on an absolute tear as of late, hitting .417 over his last ten games. When asked about the start to his pro career, Schunk stated,
"A lot of the aspects surrounding the game are different, like the stadium, the fans, the travel; but at the end of the day, I’m just playing baseball. Everyone knows that I just love to be on the field, so once I was back out there and got in my groove I was able to heat up"
Tony Locey, P (3rd Round, St. Louis Cardinals)
Locey had an incredible season for Georgia this year. In fact, he was the first Bulldog to win 11 games in a season since 1990 and that was good enough to earn him a runner up selection for National Pitcher of the Year.
Locey caused batters to swing and miss throughout his career at Georgia, striking out 194 batters in 186 career innings.
The first summer following a long college season usually means pitchers are in a limited role. When asked, Locey said, "Well right now I’m just getting used to pro ball because I have so many innings under my belt from college, so they are taking it easy"
Locey was excited to be drafted by a proven winner such as St. Louis, "It was a dream come true. The Cardinals are a first-class organization with a lot of history"
Locey has made three appearances with 3.0 scoreless innings.
Tim Elliot, P (4th Round, Seattle Mariners)
Elliot left Bulldog fans with quite a final performance, throwing a complete game, 2-hit, shutout against FAU in the regional in Athens to finish off a career year for the right-hander out of Loganville, Ga.
Elliot went (7-3) in 14 starts this season for the Bulldogs with a 2.38 ERA, (72) strikeouts in 75.2 innings and only (24) walks.
He's doing well for the Everett Aquasox so far this summer with a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 innings. The good news for Elliot, he's getting a consistent workload in a starter's role for the Aquasox. Having a constant starting schedule is rare in the minors, so hopefully, Elliot can take advantage of it.
LJ Talley, 2B (7th Round, Toronto Blue Jays)
LJ was UGA's second baseman from essentially his first day on campus in Athens and was a defensive constant for the Dawgs. However, in his last season for Georgia, he put on a hitting clinic.
Talley hit .332 with (8) HRs, and thoughts of an outlier season are quickly put to rest when you look at the progression Talley made over his career in Athens, raising his batting average at least 30 points every season.
When you look at Talley's defensive abilities on top of a developing left-handed bat at the plate, it's no reason the Blue Jays valued him enough to invest a 7th round draft selection.
Talley is spending his summer in Lansing, Michigan playing in the Midwest League for the Blue Jays Single-A affiliate, the Lugnuts. He's hitting just .156 in a limited sample of (53) plate appearances. But no need to worry, as it did during his career in Athens, the bat will come around.
Zac Kristofak, P (14th Round, Los Angeles Angels)
Kristofak was a highly touted prospect out of Marietta's Walton High School. In fact, he was drafted in the 37th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, but elected to spend three years in Athens instead.
And what a decision it was for the 5'9" flame thrower, after a junior season that consisted of a 3.83 ERA and (58) strikeouts in just 42.1 innings of work. Kristofak also led the SEC in appearances as well this past season, (31).
He's off to a tough start in the Pioneer league for The Angels' rookie ball organization, the Orem Owls, but he will get back on track soon.
Tucker Maxwell, OF (22nd Round, Philadelphia Phillies)
Maxwell spent three seasons roaming Center Field for the Bulldogs, and what a job he did for those three seasons. As a freshman, Maxwell started all (52) games and made just one error in Center.
Maxwell had a breakout season at the plate this year for UGA, launching (13) homers, and led the team with (24) stolen bases.
He's up in Williamsport playing for the Crosscutters and only has 22 at-bats in sevens games. So, needless to say, it's a little too early to tell.
Riley King & Cam Shepherd
Junior's Riley King and Cam Shepherd were both selected in the 2019 MLB Draft as well (20th & 26th rounds respectively) and both have elected to rejoin the Bulldogs Baseball team for their senior seasons next spring.