Last Wednesday was a bit of a bittersweet day for former McEachern High School standout Trey Harris.
Yes, Harris was selected in the Major League Baseball draft by his hometown Atlanta Braves, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Harris was elated, but he had no one to share it with at the moment.
“My mom was at work, and my dad took my sister to get some food,” he said. “It was a long day. They asked me if I wanted to go and I said, ‘No.’ I was afraid that I would miss the call.”
The Braves drafted Harris in the 32nd round.
“It was much later than I expected,” Harris said. “Scouts were saying I was going to go somewhere between the 15th and 25th round. It was a tough day. A long day, but I was so happy once the call came.”
After the call came several texts from Harris’ former high school teammates -- several of whom are playing in the minor leagues.
Infielder Jared Walker was the first of the group to go pro, after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. Pitcher Dalton Geekie was picked the following year by the Braves and is now in the Chicago Cubs’ system, while another pitcher, Alex Speas, was a second-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2016.
“We’re all still tight,” Harris said. “We have a group chat and train together. I’m the last of the group to get picked. I know I can lean on them for advice. It’s great. We have big dreams of playing in all-star games against each other.”
Braves area scout Jon David French was the one who called Harris, who played his college baseball at Missouri.
“He called me and told me to turn on the TV,” Harris said. “It was cool. Not a lot of teams wanted me evidently, but he and the Braves saw something in me. Now, I have 72 reasons to prove why I deserve to be here.”
The number 72 refers to the total number of rounds in the draft from last season to his selection this year.
“I thought I was playing well enough to go as a junior,” he said, “but I didn’t get a call. In many ways, it’s a blessing because it serves a motivation.”
The 22-year-old Harris, who finished his final season at Missouri batting .316 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs, acknowledges that he may not project as the typical outfielder at 5-foot-10, but that admission inspires him, and he hopes to encourage others.
“I see Josh Harrison doing well in Pittsburgh and Ender Inciarte winning Gold Gloves,” Harris said. “I want to show people that, if you work hard enough, you can live your dream.”
Harris could also eventually get the chance to return to SunTrust Park, where he already has one home run under his belt. When Missouri came to town to play Georgia in the then-new ballpark in early April of last year, he hit a home run that went down as the stadium’s first in a meaningful game.
It came in front of a crowd of 33,025 – the second-largest in NCAA history – and was part of an experience that Harris cherished. The homer was hit off Georgia’s Chase Adkins, a former high school rival of Harris’ at nearby Hillgrove.
“It was amazing,” Harris said. “It’s cool that the Braves play so close to where I grew up. My whole family was there, and all my friends. It was also great because my high school coach got to see me play for the first time in my college career.”
Daniel Torrenti, a fellow McEachern alum, coached Harris for his final two years of high school after the retirement of longtime Indians coach David Joiner.
“(Torrenti is) a religious man, so even on the rare occasions when we played in Auburn or Georgia in Athens, he had church on Sunday, so he couldn’t come” Harris said. “I was so happy to get to play in front of him.”
Harris is hoping to one day play all of his home games at SunTrust Park, on a journey that started the day after the draft.
“They told me to be at SunTrust Park at 10 a.m. to sign my contract,” Harris said. “Once I signed, they told me I was flying to Orlando for camp with the other draft guys.”
Harris will play next for the Braves’ team in the Gulf Coast League. Current Braves such as Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. got their starts there, and Harris hopes to follow in their footsteps.
“I’m very excited to wear ‘Braves’ on my chest,” he said. “Our GCL uniforms look similar to what the big boys wear in Atlanta. It shows that we can get there. I want to play at the highest level.”