Power-hitting outfielder Terry Fuller from Griffin, Ga., was picked by the Cardinals in the 15th round of the MLB draft on Wednesday. (John Sullivan, Griffin Daily News)

By Rob Rains

It takes a little less than an hour and a half to drive the 69 miles on two state highways that separate the Georgia towns of Griffin and Milledgeville.

Charles Peterson learned those roads well this spring during his first year as the area scout assigned by the Cardinals to cover Georgia, South Carolina and the northern part of Florida.

In those two towns, Peterson found two players – one a senior in high school and one a senior at a small college – who could provide a big power boost to the Cardinals’ organization in the near future.

On the third day of the MLB Draft on Wednesday, the Cardinals used their 15th pick to select Terry Fuller, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound slugger from Griffin High School, a player described by Baseball America as having “plus plus raw power” and by D1Baseball.com as someone with “game changing” power.

There are videos on the Internet of Fuller hitting mammoth home runs, including one he hit in a showcase at Marlins Park in Miami which was measured at 527 feet.

Scouting director Randy Flores needed only two words to describe what he liked best about Fuller’s ability – but he repeated them several times.

“What we liked was the power, the power, the power, and the power,” Flores said.

“A lot of credit goes to his area scout (Peterson),” Flores said. “The day that I saw him, candidly, was probably one of the days he wished he had done better. But that was just one day out of all the looks he’s gotten.”

The Cardinals saw Fuller, a left-handed hitter, on the summer showcase last year and then kept following him this spring during his high school season, when he hit .625 – up from a .575 average as a junior – and was so feared in his part of Georgia that he was intentionally walked twice with the bases loaded.

Fuller was committed to Chipola College in Florida, a junior college baseball powerhouse, but he is expected to sign with the Cardinals. He will begin his career as a corner outfielder, but could one day wind up playing first base.

“He’s young,” Flores said. “We’re going to let him play. We’ll figure out the rest. What we really like is the power.”

Up the road in Milledgeville, Peterson – going through his sixth draft as an area scout for the Cardinals – found Brandon Benson, a senior at Georgia College and State University, an NCAA Division II school, and another hitter with an impressive resume.

The Cardinals picked Benson five rounds after choosing Fuller, in the 20th round. Benson tied for second in Division II this year with 22 homers and was third with 79 RBIs in just 50 games. What also stood out about Benson was the fact that despite that power, he struck out only 17 times in 210 at-bats.

Benson, like Fuller, is expected to begin his career as a corner outfielder with the possibility he could later move to first.

Of the Cardinals’ 38 picks in the draft, 22 of them were pitchers including 20 from the college ranks. They selected four catchers, eight infielders and four outfielders in a year in which they did not have a pick until the third round.

“We made some picks we’re excited about,” Flores said.

Other notes about some of the Cardinals’ day three selections:


* With their first pick Wednesday, the Cardinals chose Evan Mendoza from North Carolina State. Even thought he was announced as a pitcher – which he did his freshman season, Flores confirmed he would be playing third base, where he played for the Wolfpack for the last two seasons, and also in the Cape Cod League last summer.

* The first high school pick of the day was Donivan Williams, a third baseman from Harold Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Ill., selected in the 14th round. Williams has a college commitment to Illinois State. As a senior the 6-foot right-handed hitter posted a .514 average with 10 homer and 49 RBIs in 36 games.

* The 12th round choice was Andrew Summerville, a left-handed pitcher from Stanford. The Cardinals have drafted at least one player from Stanford in six of the last eight years and currently have four Stanford players in the system, including Stephen Piscotty.

* With their pick in the 27th round, the Cardinals chose right-handed pitcher Kodi Whitley from the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. Whitley missed all of the 2016 season and almost all of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He only pitched five innings this year, at the end of the season, but his first three pitches after the long layover hit 93, 93 and 95 mph on the radar gun.

* After taking outfielder Scott Hurst from Cal State-Fullerton with their top pick in the draft on Tuesday, in the third round, they added his college teammate, second baseman Taylor Bryant, in the 33rd round.

* The Cardinals only took two high school pitchers, each coming in their final five picks. Right-hander Alex Gallego from Torrance, Calif.,was selected in the 35th round and the final pick in the 40th round was left-hander Austin Pollock from Tallahassee, Fla., who is committed to Florida State.

Here is the complete list of the Cardinals’ 30 day 3 selections:

Round 11, Evan Mendoza, RHP, North Carolina State

Round 12, Andrew Summerville, LHP, Stanford

Round 13, Jacob Patterson, LHP, Texas Tech

Round 14, Donivan Williams, 3B, Harold Richards High School, Oak Lawn, Ill.

Round 15, Terry Fuller, OF, Griffin, Ga., High School

Round 16, Jake Walsh, RHP, Florida Southern

Round 17, Will Latcham, RHP, Coastal Carolina

Round 18, Shane McCarthy, RHP, Seton Hall

Round 19, Irving Lopez, 2B, Florida International

Round 20, Brandon Benson, OF, Georgia College

Round 21, Jake Dahlberg, LHP, Illinois-Chicago

Round 22, Kevin Hamann, RHP, Lewis-Clark State

Round 23, Evan Guillory, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette

Round 24, Thomas St. Clair, RHP, Lenoir-Rhyne

Round 25, Patrick Dayton, LHP, Kent State

Round 26, Paul Balestrien, RHP, Cornell

Round 27, Kodi Whitley, RHP, U. of Mount Olive

Round 28, Cameron Saylor, RHP, San Diego State

Round 29, Wood Myers, 2B, Coastal Carolina

Round 30, Alex Gagaldo, RHP, California-Riverside

Round 31, Saul Garza, C, Edinburg North (Texas) High School

Round 32, Cameron Knight, C, Arkansas-Little Rock

Round 33, Taylor Bryant, 2B, Cal State-Fullerton

Round 34, Cory Malcom, RHP, Arkansas-Little Rock

Round 35, Alex Gallegos, RHP, Torrance (Calif.) High School

Round 36, Michael Brdar, SS, U. of Michigan

Round 37, Adam Kerner, C, Oaks Christian (Calif.) High School

Round 38, Jim Voyles, RHP, Florida State

Round 39, Christopher Hunt, RHP, Henderson State U.

Round 40, Austin Pollock, LHP, Lincoln High School, Tallahassee, Fla.

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