Stephen Gaylor

Stephen Gaylor (seated, right) 14C signed a professional baseball contract with the Atlanta Braves on Monday. (Contributed photo)

ROME, Ga. – Stephen Gaylor 14C signed a professional baseball contract with the Atlanta Braves on Monday, August 11.

"This is a dream come true," Gaylor said. "I'm really happy to get to play pro ball. I grew up a Braves fan, so to sign with them is extra special."

Gaylor was signed as an undrafted free agent after concluding his collegiate career in May. A centerfielder, he hit .373 for the Vikings with a team-leading 25 stolen bases. In his final game he went 4-4 with four stolen bases and set a new career benchmark for stolen bases (89). He was a first team Southern Athletic Association selection in 2013 and 2014.

"I'm happy to welcome Stephen to the Braves organization," said Brian Bridges, the team's area scout. "Stephen has many of the tools to be successful in baseball: he's a 'plus runner,' can hit and has a strong arm. But more importantly, he's a high character guy and the right fit for the Braves."

Gaylor will drive to Florida tonight and report to the Braves Gulf Coast League immediately. Following administrative responsibilities tomorrow, he could be in the lineup as early as Wednesday when his rookie league team faces the GCL Tigers.

"I'm so happy I transferred to Berry as a sophomore," said Gaylor. "I've known Coach (David) Beasley for most of my life and he runs one of the best programs in the nation. I also appreciate my teammates and the staff and people at Berry College for a great college experience."

Gaylor is the 32nd Berry College alumni to play professional baseball. He is, however, the first Viking to sign since Berry made the transition to NCAA Division III. Additionally, he is the third Southern Athletic Association baseball player to sign a pro contract this year.

"I'm so proud of Stephen and this could not happen to a better kid," Beasley said. "In addition to his natural talent, Stephen is one of the hardest working players I have coached. Hopefully he does well in the 16 remaining games, and sets himself up well for spring training next season."

Gaylor is a native of Rome, Georgia and graduated from Rome High School. There's a good chance he could eventually play for the hometown Rome Braves.