Four years ago, Gaston County native Jordan Edgerton helped lead South Point High to the state 3A title in baseball. Tonight, he returns to the region for the second time as a pro (Edgerton played in a four-game series at Kannapolis earlier in May) as the Rome Braves come to Hickory for four games starting with the resumption of a suspended game tonight.
Edgerton expects a large contingent of family and friends to make the drive up Hwy. 321 to catch the series.
“I’m sure they will be,” said Edgerton. “They’re only about 45 minutes away, so they wouldn’t have to stay in a hotel or anything. So, I’m sure they’ll be a decent crowd here.”
After playing his college ball at UNC Pembroke, the All-Peach Belt Conference selection became the ninth-round pick of the Atlanta Braves last June. Edgerton said he was excited about coming to the South Atlantic League because of the number of opportunities to play in front of his family during the start of his pro career.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to play in this league,” said Edgerton, “instead of maybe in the Midwest League, or somewhere out West where I wouldn’t be able to play in front of my family at all. So, this is definitely a blessed experience.”
He signed with the Braves and then went on to play for rookie level Danville (Va.) of the Appalachian League, where he hit .275 with 13 doubles, three homers and 43 RBI. He also showed a patient approach at the plate when he walked 29 times in 59 games with only 34 strikeouts. He was named to the post-season all-star team in the Appalachian League.
Edgerton said that the first taste of pro life in the Appy League prepared him for a first full season at Rome.
“Last year, the short season got my feet wet and got me ready for this year,” said the R-Braves third baseman. “It made me realize how much of a grind it really is. It got me a lot more prepared for that. This year, I’m just trying to go out there and play and not worry too much about it.”
Edgerton enters the series with a slash line of .307/ .356/ .380 with 31 RBI in 42 games, though he is batting only .179 (7-for-39) in his last ten games. Trying to work out of his current slump is one of the lessons he is learning as a pro and is a different experience that his college days.
“In college, you can get into a little slump on the weekend, and then you have Monday and Tuesday to work it out,” Edgerton explained. “You play a lesser team on Wednesday, then work it out Thursday and Friday. In pro ball, you get into a little slump, it’s go out there and play the next day. You’re facing a guy throwing a 90 mile-an-hour fastball at you.”
As a huge Braves fan growing up in the Southeast, Edgerton was excited when Atlanta took him in the draft. He had a chance to meet some of the Braves major leaguers at spring training and during last fall’s instructional league. However, it was the chance to talk with Hall-of-Fame manager Bobby Cox that is the most memorable encounter yet.
Edgerton said. “He came down and threw out a first pitch in Rome this year, and he just sat in the dugout and talked to us a little bit. He’s a cool guy. It was just weird seeing him on TV your whole life and then you get to meet him in person.”