Midnight Wednesday was the deadline set by Major League Baseball for teams and their draft picks to sign a professional contract. Fields was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the second round (69th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player draft this past June while Dodson was an 18th round pick by the Kansas City Royals.
“Today is an exciting day for our program with our closer Joshua Fields and SEC Friday night starter Stephen Dodson back,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “They provide a lot of leadership, they are very good representatives of our program, and they are very talented baseball players. This is a big boost for us heading in to the 2008 season.”
Fields, a native of Hull, Ga., ranks third in school history with 23 saves and sixth in appearances with 78. In his three-year career, he is 7-9 with a 3.90 ERA with 150 strikeouts and 47 walks in 115.1 innings pitched. Fields’ finest season came in 2006 when he earned All-America honors in helping the Bulldogs to the College World Series. As a sophomore, he went 3-2 with a 1.80 ERA and an SEC-best 15 saves. As a junior in 2007, he posted seven saves and went 1-6 with a 4.46 ERA.
Along with pitching, Perno indicated that Fields would see action as a designated hitter and get a look at playing centerfield. As a freshman, Fields made seven starts as a designated hitter and appeared in 17 games with five hits including a home run in 31 at bats.
Dodson, a native of Norcross, Ga., emerged as the team’s top starter last year. As a redshirt sophomore, he went 4-6 with a 3.56 ERA in 19 appearances and received the lowest run support among Georgia’s starters at 3.8 runs a game. He tossed a team-high 81 innings and led the SEC in ERA until his final outing of the year.
Fields and Dodson will be available for selection by any team in next year’s June draft. Teams with unsigned players chosen in the first, supplemental first or second rounds this past year will be compensated with a “same slot” pick in the 2008 draft.
Georgia had a school record eight members of its recruiting class get drafted and four of them have made it to UGA. Pitcher Justin Grimm (13th Round, Boston), pitcher Will Harvil (18th Round, Tampa Bay), outfielder Lyle Allen (22nd Round, Atlanta) and catcher/infielder Edmond Sparks (23rd Round, Atlanta) have decided to attend and play baseball for UGA. Players at Division 1 schools are eligible to be drafted when they turn 21 or after their junior and senior year.
“We got off to a tough start in the draft when we lost (Lexington Catholic High School centerfielder) signee Ben Revere in the first round, but it turned out pretty good for us considering we have Joshua and Stephen back plus four recruits who got drafted,” said Perno. “They will make a huge impact, and I’m again proud of the job done by our recruiting coordinator Jason Eller. This is a strong class.”
Class began at UGA Thursday, and the Bulldogs have added four transfers: infielder Michael Demperio (University of Texas), left-handed pitcher Stephen Ochs (Florida State) outfielder Adam Fuller (Andrew College) and infielder David Thoms (Chipola Junior College). All four are Georgia natives. Demperio is a native of Atlanta and graduate of Kell High School; Ochs is from Marietta and a graduate of Lassiter HS; Fuller is from Columbus and a graduate of Columbus HS; Thoms is from Watkinsville and a graduate of Oconee County HS. Thoms spent the 2006 season at UGA and was redshirted.