High School Sports

York's Fuesser gets drafted in 19th round by Braves

York Comprehensive High School's Zac Fuesser was the only senior in his graduating class with permission to carry a cell phone when he walked across the stage and picked up his diploma on Friday.

Fuesser, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound southpaw pitcher, was granted permission to set his phone on vibrate because he was projected to be picked on the second day of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.

The call never came, although Fuesser was drafted in the 19th round (580th pick overall) by Atlanta. He forgot to charge his phone and it was close to dead.

His dad, Mike, beat him home from graduation ceremonies and took the call there.

"I feel great about the Braves picking me,'' Fuesser said. "I've always been a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but I love the Braves, too.

"When I walked in the house Friday after graduation, I asked my dad if White Knoll's Adam Matthews, who signed with South Carolina, got drafted. He said, 'No, but you did, by the Braves.' I hope they come back in August and make a good offer.''

Fuesser signed a scholarship to play at Walters State (Tenn.) Community College, and, because of being picked so late, could be headed there.

The Braves have until Aug. 15 to make their final offer, and if Fuesser has a good summer, he hopes the signing bonus will be good enough to get his name on a contract.

Mike Fuesser told Braves scout Billy Best, who Fuesser worked out for last week, that his son will play travel ball this summer with the Palmetto Sand Gnats out of Columbia.

"They will follow Zac all summer, and they know the bonus money for a 19th-round pick is not there,'' Mike Fuesser said. "The Braves will watch him and if they like what they see, they will throw an offer out there to get him to sign and try to keep him from going to school.''

Fuesser said it's fine with him either way, but he hopes a strong summer will turn into a quicker shot at the big leagues.

"It's not that hard not to say yes at this point,'' he said. "Playing summer ball gives me a little more time to get stronger and get ready for the professional side of baseball. It gives me the whole summer to get mentally and physically tougher.

"But I hope the Braves come back and make a good offer. I hate I missed the call. I put my phone on the charger when I got home and had at least 30 text messages.''

Fuesser was 6-1 with a 1.12 ERA, 76 strikeouts and four saves in 58 2-3 innings this year. He played first base when not pitching and batted .549 with 39 hits, 13 doubles, three home runs, a triple and 24 RBIs.

He was South Carolina's Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year, The Herald's All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, Region 3-AAAA Player of the Year and named to the S.C. Baseball Coaches Association All-State team.

Scouts who came to watch Fuesser considered him at pitcher and every major league team showed up for a look. It wasn't uncommon to see two or three standing behind York's backstop with radar guns and notepads in hand when he pitched.

Fuesser's bests were timed in the low 90s -- his best was 92 -- and he consistently threw in the high 80s.

YCHS athletics director Steve Boyd said he believes Fuesser is the first York baseball player to be drafted since the early 1980s. According to MLB.com., former York pitcher Reggie Bratton was drafted out of Spartanburg Methodist College by the New York Yankees in 1981.