In the fall of 2016, the reality that Drew might be drafted following his senior year of high school began to sink in. Of course, he would have to stay healthy, play well in his final high school season, navigate through 30-plus Major League Baseball (MLB) team interviews, assessments and home visits, but based on the measurable and statistical side of baseball, Drew appeared to be at the top of his class.
As a family, we were venturing into uncharted waters. We had experienced what being a student-athlete looked like in a collegiate setting with our oldest two children, but the idea of forgoing college at 18 years old to play a game professionally created a bit of uncertainty and fear.
We sought answers and evidence in the months leading up to the draft in hopes that we could solidify or steady Drew’s foundation, but, truthfully, as they say in baseball, it is a game of failure where you learn from your mistakes. We could not have prepared for what the past two years have encompassed, but, thankfully, Drew has experienced great success, and blessings at every level of minor league baseball.
The 2017 MLB draft took place about two weeks following Drew’s graduation from Etowah High School and the clinching of the 7AAAAAAA state championship title by the Eagles baseball team. We had experienced so much excitement and gratitude, with these two memorable events, that we could not imagine what Drew realizing his childhood dream would look like. When Jeff Francoeur announced the Braves’ second pick of the draft, our home erupted in applause, tears and joy. And, so, the adventure began.
Drew signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves and headed off to Orlando, Florida, to begin his career as part of the Gulf Coast rookie league. The boys lived in a team hotel, practiced, and played games daily in hopes that their performance warranted a call-up to the next level. It wasn’t long before Drew was promoted to the Danville Braves, where he finished his first season. In the off season, Drew attended fall instructionals in Orlando, where he worked out and trained daily in preparation for the next season, followed by some well-deserved time at home.
In 2018, Drew began his season in Low A, playing for the Rome Braves, where he posted a stellar performance, earning him all-star and MVP recognition. From there, he was promoted to High A in Kissimmee, Florida, where he played as a Fire Frog. Drew had the opportunity to participate in leadership development in the off season, while continuing his training regime.
This past spring, Drew was invited to Big League Spring Training, which was a personal highlight and dream come true for him. It allowed him to experience the thrill and excitement of playing at the highest level, with the best of the best. Following a successful spring, Drew was assigned to Mississippi, which was one step closer to the majors. He had his best season thus far as a Mississippi Brave, earning MVP for his team for 2019, as well as the MVP for the entire Southern League in AA baseball. An August call-up landed Drew in Gwinnett County as a Gwinnett Striper, just 40 miles from home.
As parents, we could not be any prouder or more excited about Drew’s future. We pray that our heavenly Father continues the good work that he began in Drew with this amazing platform. Though nothing is certain, the hope is that Drew will make it to the majors and play his first game in SunTrust Park as the hometown kid sometime in the next year. From learning to live on his own, developing amazing relationships with coaches and teammates, experiencing great success and disappointments, and earning the No. 2 prospect status for the Braves organization, Drew is so thankful for this amazing opportunity. Our family is elated as well!
– Lisa Waters
Q & A
with Drew Waters
Advice to young players with big league dreams.
“Always work hard. Don’t just outwork the kids on your team, but outwork all kids! When playing professional baseball, you are competing against kids from all over the world. If your team practices three times a week, you do something everyday to better yourself. There is only so much you can learn when there are three coaches and 20 players. You have to take ownership for your personal growth as a player.”
His biggest surprise on this journey.
“The amount of work that is required to play professional baseball. Playing 140 games every day over six months, living away from your family, bussing through the night to reach a ballpark and play that same day, as well as playing in unknown cities make this journey a daunting task at times.”
His toughest hurdle.
“Learning how to accept failure. In high school, it was much easier to succeed each time at the plate. Professionally, if I succeed three out of 10 times, I am considered a Hall of Famer.”
What has been easier than you thought.
“I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to play against older guys who had more experience in the league than me. I have adjusted pretty well and faced MLB all-stars successfully this year.”