GVSU's Potts starts MLB journey
Potts unsure of Laker football future
During the 31st round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Jamie Potts got a call.
The area code wasn’t what Potts expected, but the message was.
Potts, a two-sport All-American for Grand Valley State, was selected by the Texas Rangers as the 918th pick in the draft.
“It was pretty crazy,” Potts said. “My social media was a complete mess with people congratulating me… It was pretty overwhelming between family and friends who were contacting me and trying to say congrats. After a few days it backed down and it sunk in for me.”
Soon after, Potts was shipped off to Spokane, Wash. to begin his minor league career with the Spokane Indians – the Class A short-season affiliate of the Rangers.
Now, 13 games into the season, Potts has begun to adjust to the skill level of professional baseball.
As of June 30, Potts is slashing .265/.390/.412 and has driven in seven runs.
The 22-year-old bashed his first professional home run on June 26 against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
“The last couple of games I’ve turned it on a little bit,” Potts said on June 29. “It’s definitely an adjustment seeing guys throwing 84-85 (mph) to guys throwing 92-93. The sheer speed of the game is much different.
“It’s still baseball. The talent level is a lot greater but it’s the same game you’ve been playing since you were a kid.”
Potts hails from rural Oakridge, Mich. and attended Oakridge High School, where he rose to superstar status thanks to a model personality and dominance in baseball, basketball and football.
Potts set 12 football records at Oakridge and holds the best batting average in school history, putting on a laser show to the tune of a .583 clip his senior year.
“He ran like a deer, had a great arm and his hands and his feet were so good the hitting kind of spoke for itself,” said Oakridge baseball coach Brandon Barry. “He was definitely one of those kids you hear stories about.”
Coming out of high school, some thought Potts had a shot at being drafted. Rather, he signed to play football and baseball at GVSU, where he cemented himself as one of the best athletes in school history.
As a junior, Potts again was in the conversation for the MLB Draft. The Rangers were in contact with the GVSU standout, and a Rangers scout led Potts to believe he would be selected by Texas.
The scout turned out to be anything but reliable, and Potts’ name was never called.
Heading into the draft in 2015, Potts was in contact with the Detroit Tigers and performed well at a workout with the team. He expected to be selected by his home-state squad, but when the call came, it was the Rangers on the other end.
Potts was a Daktronics, Inc. First-Team All-American in both football and baseball at GVSU. He finished with the fifth-most hits (241), doubles (44) and sacrifice hits (21) in school history, while being the top receiving threat for two seasons.
“He’s a big, strong kid,” said GVSU baseball coach Jamie Detillion. “Physically, he’s athletic and strong. They’re drafting guys on their physical upside and capabilities. He’s got the upside on athleticism. Playing football and baseball at Grand Valley highlights what he’s able to do.”
Potts was redshirted on the football team in 2011, giving him one more year of eligibility for the 2015 season. The Lakers finished 6-5 in 2014, as Potts hauled in 54 catches for 905 yards and 10 touchdowns.
As it stands now, GVSU could be facing a season without its top receiver and team leader as Potts devotes his time at a baseball diamond 1,830 miles away.
The Spokane Indians’ season wraps up Sept. 6. GVSU’s football season starts Sept. 3.
The prognosis? Sobering for Laker faithful.
“It’s not looking good so far,” Potts said. “I’ve kind of felt some people out coaching staff-wise and it doesn’t sound like I’d be able to leave summer ball year. You never know what can happen… It doesn’t look great because I really enjoy playing football there.
“We’ll see. I can never say never about that.”
Last time Jamie Potts got a call from the Texas Rangers, he packed his bags and took off to Washington.
If the GVSU product continues to play well, more calls and new ballparks could be in his future.