Westover left-handed ace Robert Daniel, seen throwing during a game last year against Worth County, signed a scholarship to play at Gordon College in Barnesville on Thursday at the school. Daniel, who led all classifications in strikeouts in Georgia the last two years and likely could’ve pitched at the Division I level, opted for the JUCO route in the hopes that he’ll either be drafted right out of high school in June or after he plays his one year of college ball, which will then make him eligible to be drafted, per Major League Baseball rules.
ALBANY — It’s all about the big leagues for Westover’s Robert Daniel, who signed a scholarship to pitch at Gordon College, a junior college in Barnesville, on Thursday.
“I think he’s made a good decision. At a D-1 school he would have to be there three years before he could get drafted,’’ said Westover baseball coach Kevin Fretwell, who believes Daniel has a future in the majors. “At a junior college he could be drafted and be at the professional level and move on after his first or second year.’’
That’s the idea for Daniel, who dominates hitters like no other pitcher in Georgia. He led the entire state in strikeouts the last two years, fanning 204 batters. Of course, there’s still a chance he’ll never make it to Gordon if he’s drafted in the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June.
As a sophomore he led all high school classifications in strikeouts with 101 in 66 innings (10.7 Ks per game), and was even more dominate last year when he struck out 103 in just 48 innings, averaging 15 strikeouts a game. He allowed only 19 hits last season and had a 2.19 ERA. He allowed only 35 hits as a sophomore.
He’s ready to move on.
“I’m trying to get prepared for the next level,’’ Daniel said Thursday of making the move to junior college next season. “I’m excited, very excited. I made a visit last August and really enjoyed it. The coaches they have there are great guys. I got to throw a bullpen with the team. That’s the nicest stadium I have ever played in.’’
Daniel said he felt at home.
“Everything fit there,’’ he said. “I liked the school. I liked the town. It was cool playing with college players. It was a great experience.’’
Daniel, a left-hander, throws hard and is expecting to have a big year as a senior — and beyond.
“He’s got the potential to get (to the big leagues) quicker than most people think,’’ Fretwell said. “He’s got every tool. He’s got great velocity and good movement on his fastball and on his curveball. And he’s got the demeanor for it. He doesn’t get rattled. Even when there are errors and things aren’t going well, he takes care of business on the mound.’’