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Wanted: Chevy, low miles, with high octane engine

6 min read

In many ways, Chevez “Chevy” Clarke headed into the summer just like most people his age.  He graduated from high school and
began readying himself for an impending college career.

But being 18-years-old is probably the link that most aligns this young man with his peers.  Some graduates get summer jobs, some get extended vacations, and others start working diligently on getting accepted into the most coveted academic programs in their

Not Clarke.

On May 22nd, he graduated with his Marietta High School senior class in greater Atlanta. Less than half a month later, Clarke’s life
changed indefinitely, before most of his classmates had likely packed away their caps and gowns. On June 7th, he was selected in the
Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Los Angeles Angels, and thus, shaped his future in a way that most high school
graduates can’t fathom.

For a moment, it was even difficult for Clarke to digest.

“The first thing I did when I heard my name called was hug my mother and she cried on my shoulder,” the center fielder recalled. “At
that moment, it just felt real.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound switch hitter’s reality looked promising even prior to the draft though. Clarke was prepared to attend
Georgia Technology Institute this fall on scholarship, and admitted that he was pleased with both the academic climate and athletic
program at the Atlantic Coast Conference affiliate. And as he sat in his residence with a small contingent of family and friends
watching the Draft, he was content with that future.

“I was really and truly prepared to go to Georgia Tech,” he noted.  “As I was watching the Draft, really, all that was going through my
mind was that everything was going to be okay no matter what. I had a clear mind. I was just trying to relax. I expected the worst
situation, and for me that would be not going on the first day. If that situation would have occurred, I was prepared to deal with that

Fortunately for Clarke, he didn’t have to cross that bridge. In the first round with the 30th pick, the Angels took the former Blue Devil
All-American. Interestingly, he was the third player selected by Los Angeles in the opening round. The first two picks, Kaleb Cowart
and Cameron Bedrosian, were both prep standouts from the state of Georgia as well.

The athletic outfielder’s selection was little surprise to anyone who has followed baseball’s top prospects in the past year. Clarke spent
just one year at Marietta but left an indelible mark on the program. He batted .403 last season for the Blue Devils, with five home runs,
14 RBI, and 17 stolen bases.

Therefore, it was especially not news to Marietta head baseball coach Chris Stafford when Clarke was drafted. “Clarke is the most
talented kid that I’ve had the chance to coach,” he told the Marietta Daily Journal. “It’s been exciting all year… (The Angels) said that
if (Clarke) was still available that they would take him at the 30th pick.”

Stafford claimed to jump in elation when he heard Clarke’s name before quickly driving over to his house to congratulate his former
player. But once the celebration had exhausted itself, Clarke wasted little time basking in the euphoria.

“I’m just ready to play baseball,” he professed. “Really, all this is great, but I’m eager to get on the field.”

The Angels organization obviously held the same sentiments. A month after drafting Clarke, Los Angeles signed him to a $1.089
million contract. A few days later the leadoff batter was assigned to the Arizona Rookie League and debuted on July 9th with an
impressive performance against the Athletics, going 2-for-3 in the Angels’ 14-4 victory.

Clarke knows that performances like these will help spiral his path toward the Majors. Like millions, he witnessed the highly publicized
debut of Washington Capitals pitcher Stephen Strasburg earlier this season. Even more thrilling was that Strasburg sailed beyond the
lofty expectations, wowing even the casual baseball fan into a frenzy.

Clarke watched but when asked if he has envisioned his own Major League debut, he digressed.

“It was exciting seeing what he did,” Clarke stated. “But I’m not even concerned with that right now. I haven’t set any goals yet as far
as that. We’re working on a plan now. All I want to do is stay focused on the present and in the future if my situation turns out like
(Strasburg’s) that will be great.”

As prosperous as the 18-year-old’s future appears to be, it’s only possible because of his past. Yes, Clarke’s youth can be misleading.
While most onlookers marvel at the prospect’s potential, he reflects on a career that began in his back yard when he was just

“I had the dinosaur bat and everything,” he joked, referring to the memory of when his parents first introduced him to the game. “It
grew from there. I started playing organized ball when I was five and haven’t stopped.”

When Clarke tosses out the word “focus” he doesn’t do so recklessly. His athletic career is provocative proof. He played football one
season, at the age of 10. Outside of that brief distraction, his complete athletic attention has been devoted to the diamond. According to Clarke, his faithfulness to the game has been the product of something beyond his own will. The former Yellow Jacket commit credits his parents with more than just introducing him to the game. Overwhelmingly, he cites them, Kenneth and Cortina Clarke, for a bulk of his recent success.

“They’ve supported me through the whole process,” he acknowledged. “Man, my parents have been with me every step of the way. They’ve been to every game, put a lot of time and work in for me. It’s amazing. They invested a great deal in me and into this game. I really dedicate a lot to my parents.”

The swift base runner who goes by the nickname “Chevy” to those who know him, has the motor to capitalize on what he and his
parents began playfully doing 16 years ago. He plays nine months of the year, measures his diet closely, and sticks to a strict work out
regiment. He realizes that professional baseball players endure long seasons and contends to be ready for the grind.

“My passion keeps me going,” he exclaimed. “It’s hard for me to have a day when I don’t want to play baseball or be bothered with it.
My love for the game makes me work harder and push that much more to improve. Everyone gets tired but you try to do the things thatkeep you fit. It’s not all physical. Mentally, I try to stay sharp. I read a lot.”

Clarke just recently finished reading the Mental Game of Baseball, and says he is continuously picking up books that inspire him.

Assuredly, he is absolutely still a student, in every facet of his life. In the offseason, for instance, he plans to begin taking college
courses. On the field, he’s studied the work ethic of players like Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins, picking up on things that can’t
be taught or coached.

So in a way, Clarke is more like his former classmates than first advertised. He got the summer job he wanted. In fact, getting paid to
play a sport that he would do for free is as close to an extended vacation as one could envision. And every night he performs in the
Rookie League and subsequent assignments, he is essentially applying for a chance to enter the premiere program in his field, Major League Baseball.

– Patrick Green, DraftNasty.com staff writer, has been writing professionally for more than a decade. He is the author of two
novels, Josie’s Missing Syllabus and Son Down; and while both works deal with topics beyond the athletic landscape, each exposes a
social scope involving sports as an underlying theme. Green has covered high school, college, amateur, and professional football
during his career, having written for newspapers in Augusta, Ga., and Charleston, South Carolina. To learn more about Patrick Green,
visit www.greeninkpub.com.

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Heston Kjerstad OF/1B-Bowie Baysox (Baltimore AA affiliate)

Heston Kjerstad throwing in the outfield during the 2019 SEC Tournament
2020 Baltimore Orioles second overall pick Heston Kjerstad is currently batting .298 with eight home runs for the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore AA affiliate) in the Eastern League.

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