Cherokee’s Pharr goes far to gain exposure
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
June 04, 2014 04:00 AM | 1204 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee’s Austin Pharr planned to spend his summer playing baseball and trying to catch the eye of college and pro baseball scouts.

The rising senior just didn’t expect to be doing it in Oklahoma.

Pharr, also a member of the Prospects 18U summer team, was selected to play for Junior Team Georgia as it competes against nine other teams from North America at the Junior Sunbelt Classic later this week in McAlester, Okla.

Junior Team Georgia is made up of 20 of the top players who are a part of the class of 2016.

According to Cherokee coach Jason McDaniel, the players are selected by a committee rather than through nomination. The Georgia Dugout Club, headed by Harvey Cochran, and the coaches of Team Georgia — a staff that includes longtime Cherokee County administrator Don Corr — helped put together the roster.

McDaniel said Pharr isn’t the first player from the county to be named to the team, but it doesn’t happen often. Past players include Etowah’s Heath Higgins (1999) and Cherokee’s Anthony Steele (2004).

Other players on the 2014 roster come from such teams as Walton, Lambert, Buford, Gainesville and Pope.

“It’s a special opportunity for any young man, because it’s a chance to compete against some of the higher level ballplayers throughout the nation,” McDaniel said. “They can be looked at by various scouts, pro scouts and college scouts. It’s a chance for any young man to further his career. He is honored and humbled to have this before him.”

Pharr received his invitation Monday and will play his first game in Oklahoma on Friday. Over six days, the team will play nine games, with a champion being decided on the final day.

“It’s been a whirlwind trying to get him ready,” McDaniel said. “He is excited. There are some great young players out there. They really try to pick the best players.”

The players stay with host families, which helps to keep the costs down. They are introduced to other athletes from eight other states and Canada, which makes it a unique experience.

Most players who make Team Georgia go on to play either in college or at the professional level. Recent members of Team Georgia include former Atlanta Brave and current New York Yankee Brian McCann, former Brave Jeff Francoeur and the San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey.

“There have been some very good players that have been a part of it,” McDaniel said.

Because the high school and college seasons run at the same time, it can be hard for college scouts to get a good look at prep players. McDaniel said that while Pharr will be playing in other tournaments later this summer, this event will put him on the radar for scouts.

“Pharr got some looks as a sophomore, and that is all you really get that early,” McDaniel said. “This summer, his junior year, is a big one. If you have the ambition to play at the Division I level, this is when they start getting serious. I’m hoping it works out for him.”

In his junior season at Cherokee, Pharr played third base, although he is usually a middle infielder. McDaniel said Pharr has played a little of everywhere, which has made him a well-rounded player.

Pharr batted .403 with nine doubles, two triples and three home runs. He led Region 5AAAAAA with 27 RBIs.
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