Recent high school graduate Zach Maxwell is not letting a chance to immediately play professional baseball for the winningest organization in history affect his summer plans.
Maxwell said he planned to pitch a few innings for his Nelson Baseball School team this summer and otherwise relax before beginning classes in August at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
The 18-year-old graduated last month from North Paulding after a successful career with the Wolfpack baseball team.
On June 5, he became the first player since New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team straight from a Paulding high school rather than college.
The New York Yankees drafted Maxwell in the 30th round June 5 and he possibly could have signed a contract to begin his pro baseball career with the Major League Baseball team with the most World Series titles.
But Maxwell chose to accept an athletic scholarship to Georgia Tech this fall and play baseball for a school which has only once advanced to a position in which it could win a national title.
“It is a really high honor, a really good accomplishment to be drafted but it’s better for my development that I attend Georgia Tech beginning in the fall,” he said.
Wheeler, who starred at East Paulding High School, was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2009. He signed with the team immediately rather than playing for a college team.
He then played four years in the minor leagues before advancing to the major leagues in 2013.
Maxwell said playing for the Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Coast Conference will allow him to face some of the toughest competition in college baseball while learning from his mistakes and progressing further in the sport.
It also possibly could improve his position for a higher and potentially more lucrative future draft spot, he said.
“Georgia Tech’s got premier academics,” he said. “That’s one of the things that really helped me make my decision, that getting an education was really important and I’m getting it from a great school.”
Maxwell’s father, Tom, said, “As parents, his mother and I are very proud of his hard work and accomplishments.”
“While being drafted by the Yankees is a huge honor and compliment to Zach, we are excited that he has chosen to honor his commitment to Georgia Tech both academically and athletically,” Tom Maxwell said.
Zach Maxwell stands 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds and has the ability to throw a baseball almost 98 mph, according to his coach, Dennis Jordan. That speed matches the velocity at which many Major League pitchers throw.
Jordan has been North Paulding’s head baseball coach since 2013 and led them to the state playoffs the past four seasons. He said Maxwell “has made a lot of progress” since his sophomore year.
“If he makes as much progress (at Georgia Tech) as he has in the past three years, he could make a lot of money,” the coach said.
The ability to throw a baseball 98 mph “is something you don’t see a lot of times from a high school kid,” Jordan said.
“It’s a situation where we thought he would (be drafted) a little higher,” he said.
Jordan has been a high school coach for a total of 30 years, including 16 years at Walton High School which he led to the state title in 1992.
Among the players he coached who also were drafted out of high school were Marc Pisciotta, who played for the Chicago Cubs, and his brother, Scott Pisciotta, who was drafted out of Walton by the Montreal Expos.
Jordan also has coached various teams for decades in the East Cobb youth baseball league, which developed Major League players like Brian McCann, Dansby Swanson and Jeff Francoeur.