BASEBALL DRAFT: Braves take Bears’ left-hander Curtis in eighth round

Published Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

John Curtis, a product of Hibriten High’s baseball program, was selected in the eighth round on Tuesday by the Atlanta Braves./LRU PHOTO

SECAUCUS, N.J. – The Braves liked what they saw from the Bears’ John Curtis.

Atlanta selected Curtis — a left-handed pitcher at Lenoir-Rhyne University the past four seasons after a standout high school career at Hibriten – in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday.

He was pick No. 230 as the draft continued through its second day and 10th round. The final rounds are Wednesday.

Local players still waiting to hear their name potentially called are:

— Right-handed pitcher Nick Jodway of Draughn High.

— LRU right-handed pitcher Thomas St. Clair.

— Former South Caldwell and Catawba Valley Community College star Bryson Bowman, an outfielder (Western Carolina, Southern Conference Player of the Year in 2017 by league’s media association; shared coaches’ POY).

— Left-handed pitcher Caden O’brien of Maiden.

— East Lincoln pitcher Alec Burleson, a left-hander.

— Utah Jones, a former Watauga star now playing shortstop at North Carolina.

— Josh Lawdowski (Lake Norman), an outfielder at North Carolina.

— Jimmy Whitehead, an outfielder at Lake Norman Charter.

Curtis (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) is the third LRU player drafted in as many years, following Ivan Vieitez (Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015) and Matthew De La Rosa (Baltimore Orioles in 2016), and is the sixth Bears player in school history drafted by a big-league club.

“I couldn’t be more proud of John Curtis,” LRU head baseball coach Tom Fleenor said in an LRU news release. “He put in an incredible amount of work to get this opportunity.”

This season, Curtis went 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA but struck out 71 batters in 50 innings while tallying three saves. He ranked seventh in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (12.78) and threw a one-hit, 13-strikeout shutout against Anderson in an 8-0 victory on Feb. 25 in Anderson, S.C.

In a four-year college career (2014-17), Curtis went 7-12 with an ERA of 4.14 with 191 strikeouts and five saves.

The other LRU players previously drafted include Steve Davis and Michael Tidwell by the Chicago Cubs in 1991,  Ivan Vieitez in 2015 by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Matthew De La Rosa by Baltimore in 2016.

Craig Corbett was the first LRU baseball player drafted. An LRU Hall of Famer, he was selected in 1981 by the now-defunct Montreal Expos. He was tabbed in the 10th round as the No. 252 pick.

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