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franklin county times

Braves tab Pope in fifth round

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 8, 2004
Van Pope's baseball stock went up in this year's Major League Baseball draft.
The Meridian Community College third baseman who helped lead the Eagles to a second straight appearance in the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. was selected in the fifth round (161st overall) of the 2004 draft by the Atlanta Braves on Monday.
Pope was taken in the 28th round by the Chicago White Sox in the 2003 draft, but he did not sign with the American League club. Amateur players do not have to sign with the teams that select them. If they remain unsigned by next year's draft, they can re-enter the draft.
Pope, who signed a letter of intent to play for Ole Miss ealier this year, led the Eagles' offense with a .419 batting average this season. He hit 17 home runs, 19 doubles, three triples and collected 58 RBIs.
As a freshman, the third baseman who played shortstop in high school hit .391 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs.
Pope, who was a preseason All-American and selected to the All-Region XXIII and All-State teams, also made spot appearances on the pitching mound for MCC over the last two seasons.
He compiled at 3-3 record and seven saves in 21 appearances (six starts) in his career with the Eagles. The right-hander posted a 1.83 ERA this season.
Pope was one of 10 baseball players with Mississippi roots taken in the first 18 rounds of the draft.
Vicksburg native Taylor Tankersley was the first player from the Magnolia State taken on Monday. The University of Alabama left-handed pitcher was selected by the Florida Marlins in the first round with the 27th overall pick.
Ole Miss had four players picked in the draft, headlined by right fielder Seth Smith's selection in the second round (50th overall) by the Colorado Rockies.
The Rebels' Jeremy Zick was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th round (450th overall); Chris Tolbert was tabbed by the Minnesota Twins in the 16th round (481st overall); and Barry Gunther was picked by the Marlins in the 17th round (518 overall).
Mississippi State University had two players selected on Monday. Catcher Craig Tatum was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round (78th overall), and shortstop Steve Gendron who was moved from third base this season was selected by the Marlins in the 13th round (398th).
Three players from the University of Southern Mississippi were drafted in the first day. USM's Jarrett Hoffpauir was tabbed by the Cardinals in the sixth round (180th overall); Matthew Sheppard was selected by the Cardinals in the eighth round (240th overall); and Ryan Frith was taken in the 17th round (512th overall) by the Braves.

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