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Two FCPS graduates inch closer to MLB dreams as first-round draft picks

(Updated at 8 p.m. on 7/11/2023) Fairfax County Public Schools went 2-for-2 in Major League Baseball’s 2023 draft last night (Sunday), as a pair of its standout players snagged coveted first-round slots.

Ranked as the 23rd top prospect in the country by MLB, James Madison High School graduate Bryce Eldridge was selected by the San Francisco Giants as the 16th overall pick of the draft, thanks to his formidable skills as both a hitter and a pitcher.

According to Inside NoVA, Eldridge got the news at Bear Branch Tavern in Vienna, surrounded by family and friends whose cheers and hugs stood in contrast to the boos that accompanied MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred throughout the televised draft.

An 18-year-old who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, Eldridge has been hyped as the best two-way player in this year’s draft class, even drawing comparisons to Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani.

In June, he helped lead the Madison Warhawks to its second state championship in three seasons with a victory over Chantilly’s Westfield High School — coincidentally the team of Jonny Farmelo, who got drafted in the first round yesterday by the Seattle Mariners.

Named “Player of the Year” for the D.C. area by the Washington Post, Eldridge also won a gold medal last fall in the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s Under-18 Baseball World Cup. His performance in that tournament cemented his reputation as someone to watch on the mound and at the plate, according to Baseball America writer Carlos Collazo.

“He entered the summer probably as a pitcher for most scouts, but that performance at Team USA, he showed some of the best raw power in the high school class,” Collazo said on MLB Network after the Giants’ pick was announced. “The fact that he was selected as a two-way player is fascinating, because I think he can legitimately do it both, and if they’re going to let him try it in pro ball, I think that’s super exciting.”

The Mariners selected Farmelo as the draft’s 29th overall pick, highlighting his impressive 48-game tenure with the Bulldogs. He finished with a .385 batting average, a .546 on-base percentage and a .773 slugging percentage, striking out just 25 times and walking 41 times.

“He is a powerful athlete who possesses the rare combination of speed and power,” Mariners Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Hunter said. “We see Jonny developing into a middle-of-the-order bat that will hit for both average and power, as well as make things happen with his elite speed.”

Farmelo’s selection was greeted with cheers by Mariners fans attending the draft ceremony, which was held at Lumen Field in Seattle as part of this year’s All Star Game festivities. Ranked as the country’s 39th top prospect by MLB, Farmelo is a “very well-rounded player” with “really no hole in his game,” Collazo said.

Both Eldridge and Farmelo will have a couple of examples to follow, if they pursue the major leagues.

Nine other Madison graduates have been drafted by MLB since the 1960s, two of them reaching the majors. Westfield is the alma mater of former MLB players Brandon Snyder — now a bullpen catcher for the Washington Nationals — and Justin Bour, who is pursuing a degree from George Mason University after announcing his retirement in February.

It remains to be seen whether either the Giants or Mariners officially sign their picks, as both 18-year-olds have other options if negotiations don’t pan out. Eldridge has been committed to the University of Alabama since 2020, while Farmelo’s commitment to the University of Virginia was cited as “the biggest question facing teams” by MLB in its prospect rankings.

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