A Sarasota grad is drafted by the Giants, plus a check-in on other Sailors alumni and a big visit for a Riverview football player.
Sarasota High baseball alumnus Vaun Brown can now call himself a professional baseball player.
Brown, a 2016 grad, was selected in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Monday by the San Francisco Giants (pick No. 296 overall). The draft was held Sunday-Tuesday in Colorado. Brown played collegiate baseball at Florida Southern College. In four seasons with the Mocs — five if you include the shortened 2020 season — Brown hit .285 with 28 home runs, 28 doubles, 100 RBI and 140 runs scored and held a .984 fielding percentage. His senior season was his best: Brown hit .387 with 13 home runs and 31 RBIs in 26 games. He was named the 2021 Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year for his efforts, as well as the NCAA Division II All-America Second Team.
Brown was the first position player the Giants selected in this year's draft, having taken pitchers in the first nine rounds. He joins former Lakewood Ranch High outfielder Grant McCray, a 2019 draftee, as Sarasota-Bradenton area players in the organization. Brown joins five other Sailors alumni in major league organizations: Joe Cavallaro (New York Mets), Evan Mendoza (St. Louis Cardinals), Dylan Busby (Pittsburgh Pirates), Eric Skoglund (Kansas City Royals) and former All-Star Ian Desmond, who has opted out of his second-straight season with the Colorado Rockies.
The Sailors also have two players, Danny Mars and Andrew Jones, on the Chicago Dogs, a team in the American Association of Professional Baseball, and one player, Casey Kelly, playing for the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization.
Making a home overseas
Speaking of Kelly, the one-time first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox, he's made a home for himself in Korea. Kelly, a right-handed pitcher, is in the middle of his third KBO season and he's thriving, holding a 3.56 ERA and a 1.326 WHIP. His performance has led to a tough-luck 5-4 personal record, though the LG Twins are second in the KBO with a 43-32 overall mark.
For someone who had great expectations surrounding his big-league arrival — he was the key piece in the trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston from San Diego after the 2010 season — Kelly never reached his potential in the U.S. It's nice to see him find success, even if it is overseas.
Visiting the Tide
Riverview High rising sophomore defensive back Charles Lester went with Coach Josh Smithers on a visit to the University of Alabama last month. That's a big deal. Lester doesn't hold an official offer from the Crimson Tide yet — though he's got plenty of time — but Alabama doesn't let just anyone walk through those doors and put on their uniform.
It's a sign that the Rams have a special talent in their defensive backfield. According to 247 Sports, Lester holds offers from Michigan State, where his teammate Jaron Glover recently committed, and Indiana, where former Rams defensive back Jamar Johnson played the last three seasons. Johnson's now a member of the Denver Broncos. That wouldn't be a bad path for Lester to follow, either.
The point is, start paying attention to Lester now. Whenever Lester does decide where he wants to play in college, you'll want to say you watched him be a ballhawk in high school. Trust me on this one.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.