More than 150 hopeful players showed up to an Atlanta Braves tryout held at Chattahoochee Valley Community College’s Howard Lake Field on Monday, hoping to catch the eyes of scout Hugh Buchanan.
Buchanan, a former Parkview High coach, said the types of players he sees at tryouts such as these run the gamut — from players who are hoping for another shot at the professional level to high schoolers hoping to get their names out there for the first time.
“We’ll have some guys who have already played professional baseball and are looking for a second chance,” Buchanan explained. “We’ll have some young men who have played college ball and were overlooked and looking for an opportunity. And we’ll have some younger men, high school age, looking for that first experience.”
There were familiar local faces at the camp, like Central’s Jermond Williams, who just graduated from the school. Former Chattahoochee Valley and Columbus State player Dustin Averett and former Chattahoochee Valley player Robert Shipman were also in attendance, both hoping for the same thing at the camp.
“Just to show that I’ve got the capability of performing at the next level,” said Averett, who played at CVCC until 2012 and CSU until 2015. “Show them, and hopefully they like what they see.”
Shipman, who played at the University of Georgia for a season before coming to CVCC, said it was all about just having an opportunity and, maybe, getting some closure on his baseball career.
“I feel like I was overlooked,” he said. “I played at Georgia and came here and hit 16 home runs in one season. So, maybe I was (overlooked) coming out of college. But that’s all you want — a shot. If they give you a shot, give you a bus ticket and three weeks later they cut you — ok, you had your chance.”
Only rarely is a player signed right out of the camp. Most often, Buchanan said, a couple of names will be turned into the front office.
“If we have a need for whatever reason for a shortstop or a second baseman or a right-handed pitcher, hopefully we’ll be able to give that man an opportunity,” he said.
For the younger high school age players, scouts give them an opportunity to participate in the camp in its entirety to gain experience and, perhaps, begin to get their names in front of professional coaches.
The Braves are one of five professional teams that still run these satellite tryouts. The majority have given them up because they rarely produce a high-priority player. But Buchanan stressed the importance of seeing everyone play.
“I love the fact that they say they don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks,” Shipman said of the Braves. “Guys can get a lot of closure here. I guess you could say that’s what I’m searching for too.”