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Rockdale's ace
Farmer thrived on pressure for Bulldogs

CONYERS - Rockdale High School baseball coach Casey Martin could tell right away what kind of player he had in Buck Farmer.

Almost immediately after arriving on campus, Farmer, the Citizen's 2009 Rockdale Athlete of the Year, became one of the hardest workers on the team, which made him an ideal candidate for pressure situations.

"The more opportunity you gave him, the better he performed," Martin said. "Even as a freshman, if you've got a tied game, you needed a closer to end the game, he had the attitude of wanting to come in and close it. He's just a workhorse as far as athletics go (and) that's something you really saw in Buck - the maturity."

Farmer carried that over into the pool.

Though baseball was clearly in his future and swimming wasn't his No. 1 sport, Farmer still brought the same maturity and work ethic during the winter season. He swam the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle for a Bulldogs team that won the Rockdale County title.

"He was a swimmer that constantly wanted to work on his swims," coach Stephen Sansing said. "On meet days, I knew he would be at his best. He even offered to do backstroke halfway through the season if it would help our relay team be faster. That's the type of teammate he is and will be."

Martin saw something else in Farmer - the willingness to change his approach as a pitcher.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander left middle school as a hard thrower, capable of blowing fast balls past batters. And while he still threw hard when he arrived at Rockdale, Farmer realized he couldn't just spend seven innings throwing fast balls by accomplished high school hitters.

"Middle school, he over-powered people," Martin said. "When he got to high school, what he had to learn was, rely on his pitching and let the defense behind (him) get outs, and, of course, he did that."

Farmer, who signed a baseball scholarship with Georgia Tech, was selected in the 46th round by the Atlanta Braves. Martin said Farmer will honor his scholarship.

"He had been heavily recruited by a lot of major pro teams; lot of pro teams had contacted me about his character and so forth," Martin said. "It was always where he would be drafted (that would influence his decision); I always told him, 'Buck, you just do what is in the best interests for you.' He's going to go to Tech and I expect him to do well."

"I know Buck will be a success at Georgia Tech, on the field and in the classroom," Sansing said. "He has a good head on his shoulders, so no matter what he decides to do after college, I'm sure he will have prepared himself well for whatever lies ahead."

Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at kurt.aschermann@rockdalecitizen.com.