ALBANY, GA (WALB) -One day after being named Georgia's baseball player of the year Cook star Kaleb Cowart was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. The award began in 1985 to recognize outstanding athletic excellence and high standards of academic achievement. Former winners include major league baseball stars Zach Greinke and Alex Rodriguez. Gatorade will fly Cowart and his family to Hollywood in July for the ESPY awards where he'll be in the running for Gatorade Athlete of the Year.
"I've worked my entire life for something like this and I wouldn't really be here today without the grace of God" said Cowart.
Cowart celebrated his 18th birthday on Wednesday and had no idea he was going to win the award until his teammates surprised him Thursday morning.
"Earlier this morning we all gathered for our team picture to take for our plaque and they surprised my and gave me a cake for my birthday which was yesterday and completely surprised me with it and it was awesome."
Cowart played pitcher and third base while leading Cook to a runner up finish in the Class AA playoffs. He finished his senior year with a 10-1 record and 1.05 ERA, while striking out 116 batters. He also batted .654 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs.
Cowart signed a scholarship with Florida State in November but is projected to be a first round pick in Monday's major-league draft. He hopes to be drafted as a position player.
"I like to play day in and day out. I don't mind pitching but I'd definitely rather play everyday. I love to play the game and I have a passion for the game."