Justus taken in MLB draft
Georgia Tech shortstop Connor Justus was taken early Friday on Major League Baseball’s second day of the 2016 draft.
The former Cartersville High School Canes’ infielder was selected during the 5th round with overall pick number 156 by the Los Angeles Angels. He will forego his senior season at Georgia Tech to sign with American League franchise.
Justus joins the pro ranks after three seasons at shortstop for Georgia Tech where he excelled defensively. He started all 63 games as a junior and helped the Jackets lead the nation with a school-record 80 double plays in 2016. He completed his junior campaign with a .954 fielding percentage in 302 defensive chances.
He becomes the third current former Cartersville Hurricanes baseball alum in professional baseball. Donavan Tate (Rancho Cucamongo Quakes / Los Angeles Dodgers organization / Advanced Class A California League) and Sam Howard (Hartford Yard Goats / Colorado Rockies organization / Class AA Eastern League) are both currently on minor league rosters.
Justus, a Jackets' three-year starter who helped lead Cartersville to a 2013 state high school title, improved at the plate in his junior college season. He hit .324 with an on-base percentage of .442 and was named third-team All-ACC. He finished second on the team with 80 hits and added 16 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 37 RBI. He also led the Yellow Jackets with 41 walks.
He was the 18th shortstop selected in this year’s MLB draft and the first of potentially five Georgia Tech players selected.
Georgia Tech teammate, Matthew Gonzazlez, was also drafted on Friday by the Atlanta Braves with the 169th overall pick. Gonzalez, who played at Harrison High School in Cobb County, played second base, third base, and outfield during his Tech career. Gonzalez hit .378 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI in 2016 and was named first-team All-ACC.
Yellow Jackets’ pitchers Brandon Gold and Matthew Gorst, along with outfielder Kel Johnson are also considered candidates for the draft that continues on Saturday.
Justus reportedly reached an agreement with the Angels for a signing bonus of just under $350,000.
He joins the Angels’ 2016 draft class of Matt Thaiss (16th overall pick / University of Virginia / catcher), Brandon Marsh (60th overall / Buford High School (GA) / outfielder), Nolan Williams (96th overall / Turner High School (KS) / shortstop), and Chris Rodriguez (126th overall / Edward Pace High School (FL) / RHP) taken in the first five rounds.
Justus will now be assigned within the Angels’ farm system which includes a Rookie Level team in the Arizona League and the Rookie Level Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League.
The remainder of the Angels’ system includes the Class A Burlington Bees of the Midwest League; the Inland Empire 66ers of the Class A-Advanced California League; the Arkansas Travelers of the Class AA Texas League; and the Class AAA Salt Lake Bees of the Pacific Coast League.