As Barker, Kent Emanuel and Patrick Merkling toil in the minor leagues, Chad Jenkins and Nick Markakis are working their crafts in the majors.
Since being drafted in the 16th round by Atlanta out of Mercer, Barker has spent time with two of the Braves’ minor league affiliate.
The right-handed pitcher started out with the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League, a rookie-level affiliate in Virginia, and remained there for just a few days, making two appearances of scoreless relief.
A week ago, Barker moved on to the Braves’ Single-A affiliate in Rome and has earned a save and a loss in two appearances. He’s pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and four earned runs, including a homer, and has struck out two.
Former Woodstock standout Emanuel, a third-round selection out of North Carolina in 2013 by the Houston Astros, has also spent some time moving around the minors.
The left-hander was assigned to the Gulf Coast League after the draft and saw limited playing time in Kissimmee, Fla., after being used heavily as a senior with the Tar Heels. Emanuel’s offseason was then interrupted in January as he underwent an appendectomy.
Now back on the mound, Emanuel has made a couple of moves between the Astros’ single-A and advanced single-A affiliates. He’s 3-5 with a 5.33 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 12 starts.
Currently assigned to the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League, Emanuel has also appeared in relief six times, bringing his innings total to 76. With 56 strikeouts to his credit, Emanuel holds and ERA of 5.33.
Merkling, another pitcher out of Etowah, began the season in the independent Frontier League after two years in the Miami Marlins’ system. He was 0-2 in three starts with the Traverse City (Mich.) Beach Bums, but he’s no longer listed on the team’s roster after last pitching June 1.
Merkling was selected by the Marlins in the 18th round of the 2012 draft out of Chattanooga State Technical College. After starting 2012 in the Gulf Coast League, he eventually worked his way to advanced single-A by the end of the season, but 2013 wasn’t good to Merkling. He pitched 32 1/3 innings in 23 games and ended the season with a 7.79 ERA.
Cherokee product Jenkins made his major league debut in 2012. Two years later, after bouncing between the starting rotation and the bullpen, and the majors and minors, he seems to have found a home in the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen.
Jenkins, selected in the 20th round of the 2009 draft out of Kennesaw State, has pitched 18 2/3 innings in 14 games this season. He’s 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 10 strikeouts.
Woodstock alum Markakis, the seventh overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2003 after two seasons at Young Harris, is perhaps the most established of the Cherokee County products.
After parts of three seasons in the minors, Markakis made his major league debut in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. He’s become a staple of the Orioles’ outfield, predominantly in right, and has played at least 150 games in six of his eight seasons.
This year, the 30-year-old Markakis is playing some of his best baseball. He entered Wednesday fourth in the American League with 111 hits and is on pace to surpass 200 for the first time in his career. He’s batting .295 with 19 doubles, seven home runs and 32 RBIs.
Markakis also now ranked eighth all-time among the Oriole franchise’s career hit leaders with 1,478 through Tuesday’s games. Among those ahead of him are Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray and George Sisler, as well as former Baltimore mainstays Boog Powell and Brady Anderson.
Markakis also ranks among the top 15 in games played (1,299), at-bats (5,065), runs (712), doubles (308), home runs (134), RBIs (640) and walks (526).
Markakis’ time with the Orioles may not last much longer, however, as his contract only runs through 2014. He does, however, have the chance to remain with the team through 2015, should the Orioles pick up his $17.5 million option.