High School Sports

MLB draft: Bi-City players you need to watch

Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com 
Columbus High's Kyle Carter was the starting pitcher against Troup in Game 1 of the GHSA Class AAA baseball state semifinals Monday afternoon at CHS.
Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com Columbus High's Kyle Carter was the starting pitcher against Troup in Game 1 of the GHSA Class AAA baseball state semifinals Monday afternoon at CHS.

The first two rounds of the Major League Baseball draft will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday with the remaining 38 rounds spread over the next two days.

As usual, the Bi-City area will feature a handful of players worth keeping an eye on over the course of the draft's three days.

While some could be drafted as high as the middle rounds, it is unlikely any will become a first-day pick.

Rounds 3-10 will take place beginning at 1 p.m. Friday and rounds 11-40 at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Here's a look at this year's potential draftees:

John Holland, SS, Chattahoochee Valley C.C.

Holland is a sophomore shortstop who began his college career at Florida State. He played just one season there, missing 2013 due to a back injury, before coming to Phenix City.

A successful sophomore season in which he batted .406 with 38 RBIs and 26 stolen bases led to a scholarship offer from Mississippi State, where he has signed to play next season.

Unless of course he signs a professional contract.

Pirates coach Adam Thomas said he expected Holland to fall somewhere in the range of the 15th and 20th rounds.

Dalton Rentz, P, Chattahoochee Valley C.C.

The record-holder for wins at CVCC, Rentz should get attention from pro clubs in the draft, according to Thomas.

Rentz won 23 games over the course of two seasons in Phenix City, including a 12-2 record, 1.82 ERA and 103 strikeouts as a sophomore this season.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound pitcher signed in December to continue his college career at Auburn University, beginning this fall.

Rentz is likely a lower-round pick, in the 30s, according to Thomas.

Kieboom was second on the team in RBIs as a freshman with 50 and hit at a .325 clip.

A Walton High product, Kieboom began his college career at Clemson before suffering through two shoulder surgeries as a pitcher.

His pitching days ended when he came to the Pirates, and he became an offensive force in the middle of the lineup.

At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Kieboom has the size that attracts professional suitors.

Thomas said he expects Kieboom to be taken somewhere in the mid-to-lower rounds.

Michael O'Neal, P, formerly of Pacelli High and CVCC (current: Auburn University)

A Pacelli product, O'Neal began his college career at Chattahoochee Valley before signing and playing at Auburn in 2013-14.

In his first season at Auburn, O'Neal was the team's most consistent pitcher with an 8-4 record and 2.73 ERA. Those numbers fell off to 3-6 and 4.29 this season, but being selected should still be within reach.

It is likely he will fall somewhere in the middle rounds on Saturday.

Kyle Carter, OF/1B/P, formerly of Columbus High (current: Miami-Dade College)

The do-it-all athlete has been in the draft discussion for years, beginning with his highly successful high school career with the Blue Devils.

After gaining fame in the 2006 Little League World Series, Carter helped lead Columbus to three straight state championships.

He signed with the University of Georgia out of high school and transferred to Miami Dade College.

At Miami Dade, he led his team deep into the 2014 JUCO world series tournament in May.

If Carter is selected, it will likely come on the third day of the draft.

J.T. Phillips, 3B, formerly of Columbus High (current: Georgia Perimeter JC)

Phillips, who also signed with the University of Georgia out of high school, is currently in between colleges.

He earned conference player of the year honors at Georgia Perimeter this season, batting .419 with 19 doubles and 50 RBIs, as well as saving seven games on the mound.

On Tuesday, he signed a national letter of intent to play at Armstrong Atlantic beginning next season, but he's also the No. 18 rated college player in Georgia and No. 377 nationally, according to Baseball America, meaning his name will likely be called in the middle rounds on Friday or Saturday.

He, too, was a member of the 2006 Little League World Series team and three state championships at Columbus.

Jamal Howard, OF, Central High

The lone high school prospect on the list, Howard's name has been tossed around as a potential draftee, according to Red Devils coach Roy Dixon.

He is one of the highest-rated high school prospects in Alabama.

He has signed to play with the University of Alabama in college.

This season, he helped lead Central with a .329 average, 10 doubles, 9 home runs and 38 RBIs.

If he is chosen, it will likely come in the later rounds.