South Forsyth baseball coach Russ Bayer brought Jake Drehoff to the mound one day before the 2010 season to watch him pitch. The senior left-handed pitcher had just 2/3 innings of varsity experience. His passion growing up was basketball. His summers were spent on the AAU circuit.
But as Drehoff began to throw, Bayer saw something.
"He was really the guy who was like, ‘Hey man, you’ve got the talent,’" Drehoff said. "’You’re 6-foot-4, very projectable.’ He kind of worked with me, kind of planted the seeds of having a good chance of playing major league baseball."
Bayer was right. Drehoff, a redshirt sophomore out of the University of Southern Mississippi, was picked 354th overall in the 12th round in the Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.
Two days later, Drehoff flew to Boston to be examined by team doctors. This Saturday, he plans to report to Fort Myers and the Red Sox’s Gulf Coast Rookie League affiliate where he said he’ll sign his professional contract.
"It’s a crazy feeling," Drehoff said. "All that hard work growing up, your parents taking you to all those travel games and lessons, all that’s coming to fruition. Getting picked by a major league team is awesome."
"I’m just so proud for him," Drehoff’s father, Dean, said. "I’m happy for him about the adversity he’s been through, both mentally and physically. [I’m proud of] just the passion he has and how hard he’s worked to get to this pinnacle."
The radar didn’t pick up Jake until his senior season at South. He played on the varsity baseball team his junior season but a basketball injury prevented him from being much of a factor. Besides, the War Eagles were already loaded. They eventually reached the Class 5A championship and lost to Pope.
Then he was discovered by Bayer, then Southern Mississippi baseball coach Scott Berry and then major league scouts.
It was a swift four years from late-blooming high school standout to getting a call from the Red Sox’s area scout while he sat at a pool with a friend.
He called to say Boston wanted him to be a Red Sox.
"I was like [heck] yeah," Jake said. "I was kind of lost for words."