Butch Thompson, Mississippi State's pitching coach, has had a couple of his pupils at Georgia taken in the first round of the Major League Draft: Brooks Brown (2003) and Joshua Fields (2008). Chris Stratton makes No. 3, having been taken 20th overall last night by San Francisco (CLICK HERE), and this one's a little different for Thompson.
"Chris is the special one because I had him start to finish," said Thompson, who came on board at MSU when John Cohen was hired as head coach in the summer of 2008. Stratton was part of Cohen's second recruiting class and pitched three years for the Bulldogs, going 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA this season.
Thompson got to coach him the entire way. He didn't get to do that with Brown and Fields.
"To me, that's a little more personal," Thompson said.
And in fact, when I asked Thompson on how he felt about one of his pitchers being drafted so high, he said, "I think more than that it makes me feel good about a relationship that I've had with Chris and his family for four years, to see good things happen to good people. I feel like he's worked so hard."
While he will deflect credit, Thompson played a prominent role in Stratton's development. The Tupelo native was solid as a freshman but met some struggles as a sophomore. After a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, Thompson and Cohen finally got through to Stratton the need to, as they've so often put it, "run your own show."
"You're always your own best coach, and that's something that coach Thompson has always said," Stratton said.
• Stratton has a connection to San Francisco: He has an aunt and uncle living there, Sharon and Gaines Dobbins. And then there's the fact that former Bulldog Will Clark was drafted by and played for the Giants, and this story from the San Francisco Chronicle explores those connections (CLICK HERE).
"They were pretty pumped and called my dad pretty excited," Stratton said of the Dobbins'.
• Stratton was not drafted out of Tupelo High School, but that's because he was set on going to college and made that intention clear to scouts.
"He didn't have any interest in being in the draft, and they're such good people they communicated that, so he doesn't go drafted, and then he winds up being the 20th pick," Thompson said.
I'll have more coverage of Stratton in tomorrow's Journal.