Giroud recognized for outstanding season

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- Michael Giroud is 19 years removed from being a newborn baby, but this season he was a diaper dandy.
   The East Tennessee State third baseman was recently named an honorable mention All-American by the publication "Collegiate Baseball."
   Giroud hit .318 and drove in 39 runs for the Buccaneers.
   "I'm really proud of Mike," ETSU head coach Tony Skole. "He got better and stronger as the year went on. To be named a freshman All-American is a big honor, and hopefully it's a great indication of things to come.
   Skole believes that Giroud was one of his more consistent players this past season.
   "The thing with Mike is that he plays well on a consistent basis," Skole said. "He always showed up to play, and you always look for that out of your kids. As a freshman to come in and start, and play that well on a consistent basis is a great tribute to him."
   Skole expects even bigger things out of Giroud in the coming year.
   "Michael's a tremendous young man," Skole said. "He's a great student. I think he will have the confidence to come back next year and be a leader. He makes great decisions on and off the field."
   Skole was proud of all his freshman class, including outfielder Matt Traylor, pitcher Michael Bauer, catcher/pitcher Caleb Moore and second baseman Justin Clear.
   Last season's recruiting class was ranked in the top 50 in the country, but this year's could be better than that.
   "We've won some recruiting battles against some SEC and ACC schools," Skole said. "We're going to see how they do. They're very talented, and we'll be excited to get them on the field."
   Among those coming to ETSU are Tennessee High's Boodle Clark, Daniel Boone's Jeremy Hall and Science Hill's Shane Byrne.
   Clark hit .538 and was named Northeast Tennessee player of the year, while Hall and Byrne were the aces of the their teams pitching staffs.
   Clark and Hall were both expected to be drafted in last week's Major League Draft, but were passed by.
   Skole thought there was a reason for that.
   "The only reason Boodle and Jeremy probably weren't drafted was because they wanted a college education," Skole said. "They let the scouts know they wanted their education. They were talented enough to get taken in the draft."
   It's tough for collegiate freshmen to come in and be stars, but Skole feels like he has a special group.
   Skole knows it's going to be tough early, but he thinks they will be fine.
   "They can do things that most players in our conference can't," Skole said. "Physically, they won't be overmatched. Mentally, it will be a learning process.
   "There are some adjustments. Physically and talent wise they will help us. They will have some growing pains, but everybody does.
   A lot of baseball experts thought that ETSU pitcher Reid Casey would get drafted, but Casey wasn't taken.
   "I was disappointed and shocked," Skole said. "I was sick to my stomach. When I talked to the scouts, everyone loved him. It left me in amazement. I know Reid's a lot more ready for pro ball than some kids.
   Skole thinks Casey will still play in the minor leagues. Skole believes he might take the route that former ETSU standout Nathan Copeland did last year.
   "I'm hoping he will sign as a free-agent," Skole said. "I think as a pitcher you have a better chance than you do as a position player."
   It was shocking for Skole that Casey didn't get drafted, and he thinks there may have been no bigger surprise in this year's draft.
   "It might be the shock of the draft," Skole said. "Every coach I talked to was in disbelief. I have no doubt in my mind that was the shock of the draft that he didn't get taken."
   Former Unicoi County and ETSU standout Andy Baxter has been in Florida at extended spring training, and is get ready to start short-season Class A ball.
   Baxter will be sent to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a team based out of Niles, Ohio.
   Baxter was an Appalachian League All-star last year at Burlington (NC).
   Skole thinks Baxter will do great.
   "I know he's gotten a lot better and a lot stronger," Skole said. "I expect him to put up some pretty big numbers this summer. I hope he does."