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Majors call on Effingham
Red Sox take Wendelken, Driggers to Tigers
0608 jb wendelken 1
Former South Effingham High School ace JB Wendelken was chosen in the 13th round by the Boston Red Sox in the first-year player draft. Wendelken pitched last season at Middle Georgia College and was named GCAA player of the year. Middle Georgia teammate and former Effingham County High star D.J. Driggers went in the 22nd round to the Detroit Tigers. - photo by File photo

The Boston Red Sox have chosen another former South Effingham High School star, via Middle Georgia College.

The Red Sox selected pitcher JB Wendelken in the first-year player draft Tuesday night, selecting the former South Effingham and current Middle Georgia right-hander in the 13th round.

"We are very excited and very happy for him," said South Effingham head baseball coach Ron Womack. "He deserved it 100 percent."

Former Effingham County High School star, and Wendelken’s Middle Georgia teammate, D.J. Driggers was taken in the 22nd round by the Detroit Tigers. Driggers played in 58 games, starting 55, and hit .249 for the season. He had five home runs and 28 runs batted in. He led MGC with 27 stolen bases.

ECHS coach Brett Griffin said he spoke with Middle Georgia coach Craig Young about Driggers and how quickly the former Rebel progressed at MGC.

"He struggled at first, but once he made the adjustment, he was lights out," Griffin said. "I’m excited for him."

Wendelken, the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association 2012 baseball player of the year, was stellar in his first year at Middle Georgia. He fanned 54 batters in 46 innings and allowed only one earned run. He was 7-0 with nine saves in 22 games, giving up only 27 hits and eight walks.

Opposing batters hit just .169 against Wendelken this year.

"His numbers and stats were mind-boggling," Womack said. "In a league like that, that’s unbelievable. You’re facing good hitters, top to bottom, in the lineup. It’s a little more of a role

than just being the closer."

Wendelken went from being the Mustangs’ closer to the No. 1 starter in his senior year at South Effingham. As a senior, he went 11-2 with a 1.61 earned run average, striking out 110 batters in 81 innings.

But at Middle Georgia, Wendelken honed his repertoire of pitches beyond his dynamite fastball.

"He was good here, and he took the good he had here and made it better," Womack said. "That shows the kind of young man he is."

Griffin, who also played at Middle Georgia with former major leaguer Willie Harris, was happy for both of the county’s latest two draft picks.

"I’m extremely excited for both JB and DJ," he said. "We knew from the time they left high school they had the tools to play. They needed to go get a little more mature and boy, have they ever. They have the tools, and they have worked hard."

Wendelken is the first Mustang under Womack’s watch to be drafted, and the Mustangs coach understandably was elated.

"You never know if it’s going to be your last," he said. "Baseball is so good, especially in Georgia. You have to be a top-caliber player just to be considered."

Wendelken is the third Mustang to be drafted by the big leagues, following Austin Chambliss (Colorado Rockies) and Josh Reddick (Boston Red Sox). Reddick, like Wendelken, also was drafted from Middle Georgia College. He is currently a starting outfielder for the Oakland Athletics.

"It speaks volumes for the program and how fortunate we are to have players of that caliber," Womack said.

With the selections of Driggers and Wendelken, five Effingham players have been drafted by the big leagues since 2006. The New York Mets took former ECHS star Zach Dotson in the 13th round in 2009.

"It just shows you we’re doing something right in Effingham County," Griffin said. "It starts early. These kids are developing into good baseball players. There are some things that are going right."