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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Walters, McRee, Earls Return As Deadline Passes

From UGA release...

Monday's midnight signing deadline for players selected in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player draft yielded no surprises for the University of Georgia baseball program.

The Bulldogs welcome back three pitchers drafted in Jeff Walters (17th round, Baltimore Orioles), Alex McRee (26th round, Los Angeles Dodgers), and Justin Earls (47th round, Pittsburgh Pirates). The trio returns for their senior season, and they will be part of a veteran pitching staff expected to anchor the 2010 club. McRee has a 13-9 career record in 65 appearances including 19 starts. Walters, who has been drafted four times in his career, went 2-0 with a 4.64 ERA in 27 appearances including two starts last season. Earls is 4-6 in 80 appearances including six starts.

Georgia returns 10 pitchers who saw action last season including Justin Grimm (4-4, 4.15 ERA) who is projected to be a premium pick in the 2010 draft.

"One plus for the 2010 team will be our experience on the mound," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We're going to lean on our veterans. We're happy to have them back. Offensively, we'll have a different look compared to the last few years. We'll have one of our youngest lineups probably since 2007, and we'll need to have a great fall practice."

Georgia led the country with a school record 11 players drafted this past June, and eight turned professional including five starting position players. Junior first baseman Rich Poythress, the team's triple crown winner last season at .376-25-86, headlines the group that concluded their Georgia career. He was a second round pick of the Seattle Mariners. The other four starters who signed were juniors Joey Lewis (.282-19-58), Matt Cerione (.291-12-43) and Michael Demperio (.252-3-14) plus senior Bryce Massanari (.305-19-57). Pitchers Trevor Holder (7-5, 4.48 ERA), Dean Weaver (3-2, 3.60 ERA, 10 Saves) and Will Harvil (4-3, 3.54 ERA) also signed.

Georgia held on to four members of its incoming recruiting class that went in the draft. Pitcher Eric Swegman (Atlanta Braves, 28th round), outfielder Zach Taylor, (Pittsburgh Pirates, 31st round), pitcher Jake Montgomery (Atlanta Braves, 32nd round) and pitcher Malcolm Clapsaddle (Baltimore Orioles, 34th round) all reported to campus and attended classes Monday. However, pitcher Zach Dotson (13th round, New York Mets) and catcher/infielder Miles Head (26th round, Boston Red Sox) opted to sign a professional contract.

The Bulldogs begin fall practice Sept. 13 at Foley Field and open the 2010 season on Feb. 19 with a doubleheader against Baylor and Duke in Waco, Texas.

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