It's the dream every kid who tosses a baseball in the backyard has, going pro.
For Atlanta baseball prospect Drew Waters, that dream will likely become reality in the next couple of days. Waters is expected to be drafted in one of the early rounds of the MLB Draft, which begins Monday and goes through Wednesday.
"It’s a huge honor. Growing up, you can go around to any park and ask the younger kids what their dream is. I can tell you right now it’s to play professional baseball," Waters told 11Alive Sunday. "It’s a huge honor to potentially follow my dream and continue my career at the professional level this year."
Waters, an 18-year-old outfielder from Etowah High School, has already signed to play collegiate baseball at the University of Georgia. But he's projected to be drafted somewhere between the middle of the first round to early second round. He won't pass that up.
His high school coach, Greg Robinson, compares him to Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler who he coached at Milton High School.
"I haven't had a guy like [Waters] in my 20-plus years," Robinson said. "He's got that Mickey Mantle type ability in that he runs so well. He's got a plus arm. He's gonna hit for an average, and he's gonna pop from both sides of the plate."
One team that's been interested in Waters for more than a year now is the Detroit Tigers. They've been watching him since last summer. And as interest grew, Waters said the team's general manager Al Avila even came to watch him play last season.
Waters went to the team's spring training facility in Lakeland, Fla. last week and returned on Saturday. At this point, they know what he can do. But they wanted to know who Waters is as a person.
"Of course where I’m projected to get drafted, they’re going to make a large investment, so if they are planning on investing in me as a player, they want to know all about me," he said.
"I definitely think Detroit is an option. It’s definitely one of the teams that’s really high on me right now," he added.
Waters also visited SunTrust Park for batting practice. While it's a nice thought to play for the hometown team, Waters doesn't realistically see himself moving up to No. 5 overall where the Braves pick or fall as much as No. 41 in the second round. But if that were to happen, either way he'd be happy.
He hasn't visited too many other teams. He's letting his long senior season, where he hit .516 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs, speak for itself. It ended in a 7-A state title with the Etowah Eagles. It's working. A lot are interested in the switch-hitter.
But that's one of the more nerve wracking parts about the Draft. He could end up just a couple miles from home or on the other side of the country. He's not nervous about it, but the uncertainty is making his parents nervous.
That includes dad, who is a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets offensive lineman. But Water's older brother got him into baseball, and gradually Waters put aside the pads to pickup the glove. His older brother played baseball at Georgia. His sister played soccer in Athens, too. Waters was headed there next, and dad's completely supportive.
"It’s crazy to believe this, but he’s now wearing red and black," Waters said.
But after Monday night, dad may be wearing some new colors.
Waters will watch the draft at home with his family and close friends. He'll watch as the names are called until he gets the call.
"I’m feeling good," he said. "The things I can control, I can’t control anything else from this point. I did everything I could. So what’s meant to happen is going to happen. And I got a good feeling that come tomorrow night, I’m going to like what happens."
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