Braves fans, this is what you're missing out on.
Atlanta drafted a kid named Joshua Fields in the second round of the draft last year, but after a rough junior season (4.46 ERA, six blown saves), he decided to stay for his senior year at Georgia.
And oh, what a senior year it's been.
Fields, who also went to high school in Athens, is now the SEC's all-time saves leader with 34 on his career, and has been absolutely dominant this year. He's yet to allow an earned run in 19 appearances that span 18.2 innings and (with a fastball in the 95-97 range and a disgusting high-70s/low-80s curveball he developed in the offseason) has struck out 36 batters.
The six-foot, 178-pound righty looks to be an even higher draft pick this year, with about 96 scouts and radar guns in the stands every time he pitches in an SEC game. As to why he chose to stay in Athens this season (making him the highest drafted college player to return to school, at 69th overall), Fields told me this back in February:
"When the draft started, I wanted to sign - I wanted to get out of here. Toward the middle of the summer I was about 50-50. I was like, 'I love it here, it'd be nice to come back, but to start my pro career would be nice too.' Toward the end of the summer I just had a heart change … I knew by the time the deadline came there was nowhere that I wanted to be but [Athens]."
After an All-American sophomore season, Fields also chalked his comeback up to wanting to go out on a good note, and it's looking pretty good so far.
The already-shaggy closer has also avowed not to get a haircut until he allows an earned run (if he ever does). Granted, he probably wouldn't be in the MLB yet, but if you're a Braves fan, you're probably wishing Fields was saving all that money on haircuts just a little closer to home.