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Drafted players all have hard work in common

The 2017 Major League Baseball draft came and went this week, and as usual Mississippi contributed its fair share of talent to the cause. More than 20 players from the Magnolia State, including former Warren Central and East Mississippi Community College star Marcus Ragan, were among the 1,215 players selected in the 40-round draft.

Most of those guys will never be heard from again, in a baseball sense. The weeding out process is brutal. Either you can throw a 93 mph fastball, or you can’t. Either you have the physical gifts to hit one, or you don’t. Over the next year, in the balmy summer of upstate New York and the desert of Arizona, teams will put their prospects through the wringer to figure out which side of that equation everybody falls on.

No matter how skilled they are or aren’t, there is one thing every draftee has in common — they’ve all worked their butt off to get here. They put in the long hours, often from an early age, to maximize their God-given abilities.

Former Warren Central star Taylor Tankersley was a first-round draft pick by the Marlins in 2004. In a recent interview for an upcoming story, he described standing around the batting cage until 1 or 2 a.m. — at the age of 12 — with his teammates and soaking up lessons from another Vicksburg baseball great, former Chicago Cubs outfielder Roosevelt Brown.

Clyde Kendrick, a former Vicksburg High pitcher currently playing in the Texas Rangers’ organization, once drove 10 hours across two Southwestern states just to attend a scouting combine that gave him some exposure.
Ragan, who was picked in the 15th round by the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, redoubled his efforts this season at East Mississippi after what he called a “mediocre freshman year.”

Their stories are probably similar to the other 1,200 players drafted each June, and are ones we can learn from. Natural talent, whether it’s the ability to hit a baseball, to add numbers, or just a strong back, will take you far. To get to the next level, however, you have to hone that talent through hard work. Through grit. By being willing to do a little bit more, and a little bit better than the next guy.

That’s called drive, and it’s what really separates the very good from the great. The guys who got phone calls on draft day this week have it. Good on them, and congratulations for a job well done.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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