Drew Waters is quickly carving out his place in the Braves’ organization, and Saturday night’s game against the Asheville Tourists only added to that notion.
After striking out and popping out in his first two at-bats, the 19-year-old second-round draft pick knocked a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Braves a 3-2 lead.
Waters didn’t let those first two at-bats discourage him as he saw what he needed to change to get his bat going again.
“I found myself often times chasing pitches low in the zone,” Waters said after his 2-for-4 night. “Tonight, early I was focused on seeing pitches all the way and trying to catch them late in my swing. With my first two at-bats, I knew I was just a tad late, so I sped things up a little bit.”
Waters’ first full season in the Braves’ farm system hasn’t been without some obstacles. The former Etowah High School standout returned from the seven-day disabled list May 9 but quickly got back to work. Saturday was his eighth game back and featured his third home run and sixth RBI since being activated.
Prior to Sunday’s series finale with Asheville, Waters had four home runs on the season, tied for the most on the team with Drew Lugbauer. He was also third on the team in RBIs with 15. He added three of those against the Tourists on Saturday as Waters followed up his homer with a two-out, two-RBI double in the sixth that gave the Braves a 6-2 lead.
“I knew at the 3-2 count the guy was probably going to throw a fastball and it was there, so I got a good swing on it and got a hit,” he said.
Waters got to talk with another former Georgia high school player when Atlanta Braves infielder Dansby Swanson joined the team on a rehab assignment for last Thursday’s game.
“It was pretty cool,” Waters said. “It’s not too often you get to play with the big leaguers, especially being low A. Just watching how he goes about his business, and how mature he is on the field, you pick up on some things he does. He’s a special player.”
Swanson, who played ball at Marietta High School, had some encouraging words for Waters as well.
“He’s a great kid, and we were just talking about baseball and kind of thinking through a few things,” Swanson said. “Trying to help him learn and, you know, I can learn a few things, too. It was good to kind of talk with him and share some stories, try to build off certain things.”
Waters will have a reminder of just how far he has come in a short amount of time when State Mutual Stadium hosts the GHSA state baseball championships this week. Waters helped lead Etowah to the Class 7A title just last year on the Rome Braves’ home field.
“Life’s fast, I will say that,” he said.
Rome was still chasing division leading Augusta prior to Sunday’s game, sitting a half game back of the GreenJackets in the South Atlantic League Southern Division standings.
Water sees his team’s talent and has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got a good team,” Waters said. “We’re young, so as long as we continue to play hard and let our talent take over, then we should have a chance of winning it all.”
Sports editor Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.