Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

June 9, 2012

Indians draft Walker White

VALDOSTA — Walker White has dreamed of playing professional baseball for most of his life. That dream may soon become a reality.

On Wednesday, White, a right-handed pitcher for South Georgia College, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 24th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

“It was pretty much a dream come true,” White said. “That’s pretty much what I’ve been wanting to do since I put on a jersey in T-ball when I was four years old.”

White attended Coffee High School in Douglas, but some of his family lives in Valdosta. His brother Austin is a member of Valdosta High’s baseball team.

White has one thing that Major League scouts love: a blazing fastball. A few weeks ago, when White worked out for the Indians, his fastball was clocked as high as 96 miles per hour.

Last year at South Georgia, White tied for the team lead with six wins and posted a 3.49 earned run average.

White could stay in college, but says he will probably sign with the Indians.

“I am almost 100 percent sure (I will sign), unless something goes seriously wrong here in the next couple of days,” he said.

“I’ve been telling myself my whole life I’d go for a hat and a bus ticket, and they decided to give me some money, so I can’t complain,” he joked.

If he does sign, White would likely be sent to one of the Indians’ single-A minor league teams. Right now, the Indians are thinking of using him as a late-inning relief pitcher.

White is a testament to hard work and perseverance. Growing up, he says he made the All-Star team in youth baseball, but not every year. He didn’t make his middle school team one year. His coach at Coffee High School initially didn’t think that he would be a pitcher for the Trojans.

But White kept working, and his fastball kept getting faster. At Coffee, it increased to around 88-89 mph his senior year. He went 9-3 as a senior and was a first-team All-Region 1-AAAAA selection. He also hit a game-winning pinch hit home run in extra innings in a key region game against Lowndes.

White’s fastball was around 92-93 mph in 2011, his freshman year at West Georgia. He transferred to South Georgia for his sophomore season, and was still throwing 92-93 mph at the start of the year.

A few weeks ago, White faced Darton in the conference tournament in Covington, and led South Georgia to a 3-2 win. A scout for the Indians was in attendance, and he clocked White in the mid-90s. Impressed, he invited White to a workout. There he consistently reached the mid-90s, and was clocked as high as 96.

“I threw 96 a couple of times, 95 (a few times). I was mid-90s pretty much the whole time,” White recalled. “They told me then that I had a pretty good shot. Then they asked me to come back down for another private workout, and I met them in Macon this time. It was just me and the head area scout. I’m not exactly sure what I threw that day, but they were equally impressed at that one as they were the first one. He told me pretty much that I was going to get drafted, and (I needed to be) sitting by a phone on draft day.”

On Wednesday, the Indians drafted the hard-throwing right-hander.

The Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles also had some interest in him.

In addition to his fastball, White also throws a curveball and a changeup.

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