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Southfield Slugger Johnny Slater Passes on MLB Draft to Play For Michigan

   | Branden Hunter

Southfield Slugger Johnny Slater Passes on MLB Draft to Play For Michigan

Southfield Lathrup 2013 centerfielder Johnny Slater had a whopping batting average of .576 as a junior. He was deemed the 17th best baseball prospect in the state by MichiganBaseballProspects.org for his senior season. And while his high school career didn't start off that smoothly, he just kept working on it. 

"My freshman year I had trouble hitting the ball," said Slater. "Sophomore year my average went up, and then in my junior year my average really went up."Working on my hitting really showed throughout my high school career."

The Chargers of Southfield Lathrup won the OAA Gold League and finished with a 21-12 record. They made it to the state playoffs before bowing out to Brother Rice in the district championship. The 6-1, 175-pound Slater was drafted by the Atlanta Braves 943rd overall in the 31st round, but he opted for college at Michigan instead.

"I was at my friend's open house when my dad told me I got drafted," Slater said. "We we're all excited, but I feel going to school is more important right now. The Braves scout called me yesterday, and said he knows I'm leaning toward school, but that'd he'd continue to watch me play."

Slater's future teammates at Michigan, Temperance Bedford pitcher Jackson Lamb, and UofD Jesuit catcher Harrison Wenson were also drafted yesterday. Jackson by the Texas Rangers in the 20th round, and Wenson by the hometown Tigers in the 38th round. For Slater, the Wolverines are an ideal next step in his continuing development as a player.   

"Watching them play and hearing about them made me a fan, plus my family likes the school too. I got to meet Jackson Lamb on a visit to my Michigan, and I got really cool with him," said Slater. "I'm pretty close to a few more Michigan commits like Hector Gutierrez (Detroit Western International). We worked out together in the off-season with John Vickers at the HYPE Athletics gym in Dearborn."

A two position player in high school, the left-handed Slater is projected to play in the outfield for the Wolverines. He and future teammates Wenson and Lamb will play in the MHSBCA East-West All-Star Game on July 1 at Comerica Park.