The Atlanta Braves targeted the southeast Missouri and southern Illinois baseball talent pool heavily over the last few years, and a couple players are already making impressive strides through the ranks.
Former Scott City high school and Southeast Missouri State pitcher Shae Simmons will appear in the South Atlantic League All-Star game Tuesday night after a fantastic first half of the season with the Class A Rome Braves. Simmons leads the league in saves with 18, has a 2.20 ERA and recorded 45 strikeouts in just over 28 innings.
"It's pretty surreal knowing that one of your former players is experiencing some of the success that he is right now, and I wish him nothing but the best for him," said Lance Amick, Simmons head coach at Scott City. "He's always been one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached and there's no doubt in my mind that's what is leading him to this."
"Talking to him before he left, he was very excited about getting a chance to go back," said SEMO head baseball coach Steve Bieser, was served as Simmons pitching coach. "He felt like he was very healthy and ready to compete, and those are a few of the things he dealt with here, just having his arm be tender a lot here and just not being ready to go, but he really felt like this was the year he felt completely ready to go."
One of Simmons' teammates in Rome is former Advance and SEMO star third baseman Trenton Moses, who is also off to a tremendous start to the season. Moses leads the team with a .363 batting average, along with two home runs and 15 RBI in just 31 games. Moses missed 38 games to start the season with a hand injury.
"Trenton is one of those guys that wasn't blessed with an abundance of ability," Bieser said. "Everything he's got he's worked extremely hard for and he's earned it. Just to see him get back and be healthy, it's been very impressive, leading the team in hitting."
Two other area players in the Braves organization are Cody Livesay and Tanner Murphy, who was drafted in the fourth round of the MLB draft on June 7th. Both will play in the Gulf Coast League this summer.