It could be a player that initially committed to play college baseball, only to change their mind. Perhaps it’s a player that has only been on the periphery during their high school or college career.
In the case of Marsalis Holloway, the journey was an arduous one.
The Dominion Christian School graduate was drafted by the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday in the 34th round, with the 1,033rd selection overall. Holloway originally signed with Darton College out of high school, but he met adversity while he was there.
“I chose the wrong school,” Holloway said. “I didn’t take my schoolwork seriously. Then, I had to learn the hard way. I was ineligible (to play baseball), and I had to take summer classes.”
Holloway also didn’t have the classic major league frame that teams look for, as former Dominion coach Bob McDaniel described Holloway as a “5-foot-10, 150-pound, soaking-wet player” in his high school days.
Holloway, however, could fly on the bases, and he eventually worked his way into playing shape.
“He’s one of those kids that never played at a high level,” McDaniel said. “He just had a tremendous amount of raw talent, and a lot of heart. He’s one of those kids that was, really, for me, a coach’s dream. He would try everything that you wanted him to try.
“He has 4.3 speed in the 40, so I got him to bat left-handed and slap the ball on the infield, bunt, hit to the opposite field and those kinds of things. And I just wanted him to run until they tagged him out. Once he asked me, ‘Coach, how am I going to make it to the big leagues?’ I told him that he would just have to hit the ball and just keep making left-hand turns.”
More than just taking his coach’s advice, Holloway grew up as a person. He took care of his grades, and he was fortunate enough to receive some help from an unlikely source — Sean Gibbs, a major league scout with the Royals.
“First, I went to Darton,” he said. “I had a bad experience there and left there. I actually had to find a (new) school. Then, Kansas City had actually put me on their scout team in the fall. I played for them and played a lot of ball. They liked me a lot.”
Holloway went on to say that it was the Royals organization that helped him land at Columbia State Community College in Clifton, Tenn.
“(Gibbs) actually told the (Columbia) head coach about me and got a game against that school. … He did a lot for me. He sent me my first questionnaire my junior year in high school. He followed me around ever since then. He called my parents a lot, and called me a lot, and talked about life and about baseball.”
On Wednesday, Holloway didn’t have to check Major League Baseball’s website to know he had been selected. Gibbs gave Holloway the phone call he had been waiting for since he was a child.
“He called me (Wednesday) around 3:45-4 p.m. and told me, ‘Congratulations,’” said Holloway, who batted .328 and stole 12 bases at Columbia State. “And he said (the Royals) were going to take me. I was speechless. I couldn’t even say anything more than, ‘Thank you.’ He had done a lot for me and my family.”
Outside of Holloway’s story, there were several others on the final day of the draft.
Clemson’s Jason Stolz, a former Kell standout and the 2008 Marietta Daily Journal Player of the Year, was selected in the 17th round by the Colorado Rockies.
Much like Holloway, Stolz believed he had a leg up on the high school players being drafted around him because of the life experiences and failures he has had to endure already.
“It gets pumped up to a whole new level once you get to college,” said Stolz, who was a 31st-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2008. “Playing under long hours, doing all of the right things on and off the field — there was time management working with school and baseball. It’s not like I’m jumping into anything too over my head (in going pro). I’ve been away from home for four years now. I’m getting more of a grip on life independently, which was one of the biggest things.”
Stolz batted .270 as a senior at Clemson, also contributing a .331 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 26 RBIs. The shortstop has also been known as a good fielder, but, more than that, he also has one thing many others in the 40-round draft do not have — a college degree.
“These past four years have been the best, to this point, in my life,” said Stolz, who got his degree in construction science and management. “I got an education. It was very important, very nice, to have under my belt. Now, I can focus on baseball. Whenever it ends, I will have a degree to fall back on.”
The only two local high school players selected Wednesday, already made it known that they intended to go to college.
Allatoona’s Clate Schmidt, a Clemson signee, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 36th round. Marietta’s Dansby Swanson, who has a scholarship to play at Vanderbilt, went to Colorado in the 38th round.
Kennesaw State saw three of its players drafted. Outfielder Will Howard and pitcher Travis Dean were taken by the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, respectively, in the 22nd round. Another pitcher, Josh Carr, was taken by the Tigers in the 28th round.
Southern Poly pitcher Matt Kimbrel, the younger brother of Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, was taken by Atlanta in the 31st round. The younger Kimbrel, then at Shelton State Community College in Alabama, was a 32nd-round pick of Atlanta in 2011.