A survey of all the little league parks of Coweta County will reveal all players’ dream of playing major league baseball. To make it all the way, the players graduate from the ranks of little league to high school and travel ball, and then on to college and the minor leagues to complete the big-league journey.
2007 Northgate graduate Will Smith made that journey. After a year at Gulf Coast Community College, Smith was drafted in 2008 by the Los Angeles Angels. He worked his way up the minor leagues before making his professional debut with the Kansas City Royals on May 23, 2012.
Smith earned legend status in 2021 when he recorded the final out in the Atlanta Braves World Series-clinching win over Houston.
Two former high school players from Coweta County are honing their skills in the minors and hope to one day join Smith in the big leagues, where he now pitches for the Texas Rangers.
Another Northgate pitcher, Blake Whitney, is following the exact blueprint. Whitney was a three-year letter winner for Head Coach Greg Hamilton’s Vikings. After graduating in 2014, he had a successful four-year career at the University of South Carolina Upstate, winning 12 career games.
The Chicago Cubs drafted Whitney in the 24th round of the 2018 MLB Baseball amateur draft. His minor league career has included stops in South Bend, Indiana, and Everett, Washington. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Des Moines, Iowa. He currently pitches for the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League,
In 2023, he pitched in six games and earned a win with a 2.40 ERA.
Devonte Brown, a 2017 East Coweta High School graduate, took a different route. After winning four straight region titles for the Indians, Brown played five seasons for the North Carolina State Wolfpack. He finished with a .288 average and 30 home runs in 224 games.
After his final season last summer, he signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and played 27 games in Dunedin, Florida, in Single-A ball, where he hit an impressive .308.
That earned him a promotion to the Vancouver Canadians in the Northwest League. He is hitting .265 and a home run for the Blue Jays farm team.
The journey has come a long way from the high school fields of Coweta County, but there is still work to be done to make that final step. Both are in a position and have the talents to make that happen.