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For North Forsyth's Chalmers and others, the MLB draft is here, but that's the only certain thing
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North Forsyth senior pitcher Dakota Chalmers is expected to be one of the top 50 selections in the 2015 MLB draft, which begins Monday. - photo by File photo

North Forsyth pitcher Dakota Chalmers won’t hold a draft party Monday night, even though he’s projected by many to be a first round pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.

By now, he’s figured out that uncertainty manifests itself in just about every situation when it comes to baseball and his prospective career.

Chalmers and his family have a strong feeling he’ll be between the 30th and 45th player to be selected in the draft, which begins Monday night, though the later picks of that target range would fall in the beginning of the second round, which won’t start until Tuesday.

Just in case, Dakota decided to eliminate the theatrics and pizza orders for another time. He’ll celebrate when he knows where he’s going.

“It’s too tough to tell. Those decisions, a lot of people don’t understand, you really don’t know much until five or six days before the draft when teams are making their last checks,” Chalmers said. “They let you know they’re interested, but the degree of interest they keep hidden pretty well. It’s kind of like a chess game until the final minutes.”

The reason Chalmers doesn’t like making plans is because nothing, to this point, has happened verbatim with the agenda.
Thirteen months ago, Chalmers was a mid-major level prospect as a junior pitcher at Lakeview Academy in Gainesville. He had an offer from local Kennesaw State and a few other mid-major schools. Then Chalmers threw a no-hitter in his final game of 2014, and a University of Georgia baseball coach was on hand.

“He was offered on the spot,” Bill Chalmers, Dakota’s father, said. “Before that we had no idea if he was even going to consider college, or what we he was going to do.”

Chalmers committed to Georgia within a few days, but little did he know he had just entered a new threshold. That summer he attended a Perfect Game workout in Fort Myers, Fla. He showed out, and suddenly began receiving serious attention from pro scouts. His 6-foot-3 frame has plenty of room for muscle growth. As his father points out, “wait until he grows a whisker on his chin.” He throws in the mid 90s, but it’s his off-speed pitches that scouts believe will set him apart.

Nevertheless, Dakota and his family were shocked with the attention.

“We still can’t believe it,” Bill said. “A year ago we thought he had exceeded expectations. We were so glad he was going to pitch at Georgia. Everything on top of that, we’re just so appreciative and thankful. It’s all happened so fast.”

As of Sunday, Chalmers has met with 24 MLB teams. Toronto Sun columnist Bob Elliot spotted Chalmers having conversations with the Blue Jays on May 24. Chalmers and fellow Forsyth County prospect Chris Cullen (catcher, West Forsyth) ran into each other working out for the Astros. Dakota likes the idea of playing out west, possibly in San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Bill would prefer if the Braves took him so his inevitable gauntlet through the minors would be geographically convenient.

“I’d prefer the Braves since they have a team in Gwinnett, another in Rome,” Bill said. “But at the end of the day, and he’ll tell you this too, at this point, going anywhere is really all that matters. The reality is these minor league teams are all over the place, so there’s all sorts of strange places he can end up.”

“Anywhere to me, that’s all,” Dakota said.

Still, Chalmers won’t feel satisfied until he steps on the mound in a major league ball park.

“Until he’s out there in front of 40,000 people, everything else is just another step. That’s what he’s working toward,” Bill said.

West’s Cullen will take a different path. Cullen, a 6-foot-5, 205 pound catcher, is projected as high as a sixth round selection—possibly fifth. For many, being drafted that early (the draft has 40 rounds) would be tempting. But Cullen, at least for the time being, is staying focused on his college career at South Carolina—a baseball powerhouse at the collegiate level.

“I pretty much have my focus on going to college first,” Cullen said. “I believe going for three years will allow me to mature mentally and physically and put me in a better position to succeed and have fun when the time comes. I also value my education so if baseball ends up not working out I’ll be able to get right back up on my feet.”

Scouts have liked Cullen’s ability to stop balls behind the plate, as well as his throwing ability. He also brings power on offense, but believes it can get even better.

“I’ve yet to grow into my body,” Cullen said, possibly a surprise to some.

Other former Forsyth County players projected to go in this year’s draft include: catcher Danny Bermudez (Forsyth Central, Western Carolina), pitcher Andrew Gist (Forsyth Central, Walters State), pitcher Jaesung Hwang (South Forsyth, Lipscomb) and outfielder Tyler Slaton (North Forsyth, Clemson).

Big-league possibilities

A working list of Forsyth County baseball players picked in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965.

Year       Name                       HS                              Pos     Team               Rd

1987     Glenn Sutko         Forsyth County     C       Cincinnati      45

2005     Micah Owings*      Forsyth Central     P       Arizona         3

2005     Joe White            South Forsyth       1B     Seattle          41

2008     Eric Swegman       Forsyth Central     P       Kansas City   33

2009     Chase Fowler       South Forsyth       C       Cincinnati     16

2009     Eric Swegman       Forsyth Central     P       Atlanta         28

2009     Mark Doll            North Forsyth        P       Philadelphia   29

2009     Dexter Bobo        North Forsyth        P       Pittsburgh     44

2009     Brian Adams        South Forsyth      CF      Cincinnati      45

2010     Zach Alvord         South Forsyth       2B      Atlanta         18

2012     Brian Adams        South Forsyth      CF      San Diego     8

2013     Jake Drehoff        South Forsyth      P       Boston          12

2014     Michael Branigan   Forsyth Central   C       Arizona          22

Source: The Baseball Cube, Baseball-Reference

* Owings played two seasons at Forsyth Central before transferring to Gainesville High School for his junior and senior seasons.