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Move to the mound pays off for Riverview's Freddy Tarnok

Riverview’s Freddy Tarnok was taken 80th overall in the third round by the Braves.
Riverview’s Freddy Tarnok was taken 80th overall in the third round by the Braves.
Published Jun. 14, 2017

Riverview High's Freddy Tarnok was the highest area selection on the second day of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft. Tarnok, who pitched and played shortstop, was taken 80th overall in the third round by the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. He is being drafted as a right-handed pitcher, which is impressive considering he's only been a pitcher for two years.

"It's all very new to me," Tarnok said. "I've always thrown pretty hard and my high school team needed some pitching (last year). They tried me out on the mound and I just went with it."

Good decision.

At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Tarnok is a wiry pitcher who has a fastball that can reach 95 mph. As a senior, he was 7-0 with a 0.66 ERA. He pitched 53 innings, had 63 strikeouts and walked 11. He was also the Sharks' top hitter. He had a .393 average with 11 doubles and two home runs.

Tarnok said he likely will sign with the Braves and report to rookie camp. The approximate pick value for his slot is $709,000. He was committed to the University of Tampa.

"I'm pretty positive I'm going to sign and start playing," Tarnok said.

Tarnok said he wasn't sure where he would go in the draft. He had an idea that it would be early on the second day. Riverview coach Bill Leiby had no doubt that Tarnok would be a high-round pick. He saw him improve quickly as a pitcher.

"This was something we expected way back in October," Leiby said. "When you can get it up to 95 (mph) and touch 97, things are going to change for you. He's good all over, but he's going to be especially good as a pitcher."

More locals taken

Tarnok wasn't the only local player who ended up with the Braves on Tuesday. Former Sickles pitcher Troy Bacon was taken by Atlanta in the fourth round (110th overall). As a freshman at Santa Fe CC last year, Bacon was used as a reliever. He pitched 44 innings, struck out 59, had 15 saves and a 1.23 ERA.

This season Bacon pitched 40 innings and had 64 strikeouts and eight saves, all in relief. His approximate pick value is $487,400.

• With the 126th overall pick, the Giants selected University of Tampa right-hander Garrett Cave. Cave, who is from South Sumter High in Bushnell, transferred from Florida International prior to this season. He threw 61 ⅓ innings this season and had 84 strikeouts and a 4.23 ERA.

• Another area pitcher was taken in the fifth round. Former Alonso left-hander Nick Kennedy, brother of current Calvary Christian junior Eric Kennedy, was drafted 146th overall by the Rockies. Kennedy is a red-shirt sophomore at Texas. He was 8-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 53 ⅔ innings pitched this season.

• In the seventh round, former Lennard pitcher Jackson Tetreault (State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota) was taken by the Washington Nationals. Tetreault, a 6-foot-5, 170-pound sophomore who is committed to USF, had a 2.58 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 80 ⅓ innings.

Contact Rodney Page at rpage@tampabay.com. Follow @RodneyHomeTeam.

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