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June 7, 2014

Angels draft Abbott in 6th round

TIFTON — Even Devils can get their wings.

Alex Abbott is proof of that. When the Tift County Blue Devils centerfielder received a phone call Friday afternoon regarding the Major League Baseball draft, it was news that he had been selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Abbott was their 6th round pick, No. 179 overall.

"It's pretty incredible," he said Saturday. "I had been waiting on it."

Life as a Blue Devil was filled with several honors. He was a four-time first team all-region selection and was named Tift's co-Offensive Player of the Year this season. Last summer he participated in the East Coast Professional Showcase in New York. During each of his four seasons, the team advanced to the second round or better of the state tournament, including a trip to the elite eight his junior year.

Abbott had reportedly been eyed by several clubs, but had gone to California last week where he was watched by Angels scouts. "I guess it worked out well," he said. The adoration is mutual. "I'm very honored," he said, adding the organization was a great one.

Though Abbott has a previous commitment via letter of intent with the University of Florida, he said he was considering signing.

"[Los Angeles] and I haven't talked about the contract, but I'm really excited" he said. "I'm leaning towards pro baseball."

It would fulfill a dream of his. Abbott said he had wanted to play professionally since he started playing as a child. The dreams grew more serious when he began playing travel ball as a 9-year-old.

If things do not work out with L.A., he would not mind going with the scholarship to Florida.

“[Head coach Kevin] O'Sullivan and the Gators are also a great program," he said. They went 40-22 this season, losing in the NCAA regional.

Though Abbott's career has plenty of offensive ups — including a game in 2014 where he hit two grand slams against Lee County — he said his standout memories of being a Blue Devil were not about his individual performances. He called the team a family and said he will miss playing with them. "It stinks that it's over," he said.

The Blue Devils had a chance of having two players taken in the draft out of high school as Deviner McCray has been eyed by scouts as well. Abbott said he believed his teammate would go, too, though he ultimately was not chosen.

Two players would have match their all-time total, according to Baseball Reference. Israel Troupe was the last one selected, in 2007 in round 31 by Colorado. The other pick, Scott Shuman, was taken by Milwaukee in the 23rd round in 2006.  Shuman did not sign, but opted to go to Auburn, when he was again picked in 2009, this time in the 19th round by Tampa Bay.

The former Wilson High also had a draft pick, Larry Stewart, in 1967.

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