Baseball players around the south gathered at CVCC Monday morning hoping to impress Atlanta Braves scouts and keep the dream alive of playing pro baseball.
For some of these guys, this is a last chance, for others it’s just another audition in a continuing dream. The Atlanta Braves are looking for hidden talent. Their philosophy on this level reflects what they’re doing in the major leagues.
“We put a lot into obviously pitching. We are looking for athletes. That’s the two things that are out there. Even at this level, I spend more time looking for pitchers than any other position,” said Braves area scouting supervisor Hugh Buchanan.
Only a few players will shine enough to make a short list that the scouts keep for when the minor league teams need a player.
“It’s scary, you know, there are like at least 150 people out here and to be only two or three selected, that’s very scary, the numbers,” said former Columbus State and CVCC catcher Dustin Averett.
“They just want to make sure nobody falls through the cracks. If there is a talent out there, they at least want to get eyes in front of it. Guys can get a lot of closure here. I guess that’s what I’m searching for too,” said former UGA and CVCC first baseman Robert Shipman.
It’s rare, but players have been signed on the day of an open tryout like this. The scouts explained to the players what kind of circumstances it took for a pitcher to sign after a tryout four years ago.
“We had a pitcher who was throwing pretty well that day. We had two pitchers with injuries in the Gulf Coast league. We had to have a pitcher immediately. He was in the Gulf Coast league the next day through the rest of the season,” Buchanan showed the players.
All of these guys are hoping to be the one exception because they feel overlooked.
“I started as a freshman at the University of Georgia. I came here, hit 16 home runs here. I went to Mount Olive and in two years hit 20 home runs,” Shipman said. “I felt like I should at least get a shot. That’s all you want. If they give you a shot, give you a bus ticket and tell you to come on, and in three weeks, they cut you, okay, I had my chance. All I want is an opportunity.”
The Braves say they are one of the only teams that still holds open tryouts. They say most teams have stopped doing them because baseball footage is so easy to get with modern technology.