By: Taylor Black - December 28, 2016
The Diamond Prospects is having its 11th annual Pro Day. What an opportunity for the cream of South Carolina’s crop to lace up and showcase their abilities in front of pro scouts. But with that opportunity comes responsibility to perform. You are in the spotlight, in front of people evaluating your talents and judging your abilities. This adds some pressure and emotion to the game, something a lot of high school players aren’t acquainted with - something that I wasn’t used to at the time.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the very first Diamond Prospects Pro Day. It was a brisk day in January at Heathwood Hall in Columbia. I was anxious, nervous, and putting added pressure on myself the more I thought about it. I hadn’t really done this before, especially on this level. I had already signed my NLI in the fall, but I was just discovering the player that I knew I could become. I had always wanted to play professional baseball, and this was my chance to show them that I was worthy. I was a sub-7.0 runner and could put the barrel on the ball, but I wasn’t going to wow you with homeruns in batting practice. I prided myself in my glove and that’s what I was going to show off.
I remember certain things like they were yesterday. The first thing was being disappointed in my 60 time. It was a cold morning, and it was a slow track. The grass was damp and nobody was putting up the times they wanted. We lined up and I dusted my adversary, but heard the scout say 7.1. This was disappointing but on to the part of the day that I was looking forward to, Defense.
I waited my turn at shortstop and watched guys take their five ground balls. I knew that I was prepared for this. I felt smooth on every ground ball. My feet worked, my hands were good, and I was making accurate throws to first base. The only hiccup I had was throwing the first baseman a short-hop on the slow roller, but he made the pick look easy.
The last session of the workout was batting practice. Like I mentioned earlier, it was a little cold and the wind was blowing in. I remember the guy throwing BP had a nasty sidearm sinker. It was a tough day for BP, but I did my best to barrel balls up around the field. This was the first time I had really seen high school players with legit power. There were a handful of guys driving the ball out of the park with ease.
Overall, I would say that I did pretty well. I didn’t knock it out of the park, but I definitely didn’t embarrass myself. It’s interesting now to look back and think about different personalities handling the spotlight. Some guys let the nerves get to them, letting each missed ground ball or bad swing carry over to the next. Others played careless or extremely confident and didn’t let anything bother them.
If I could give any advice, it would be to go enjoy the opportunity. No matter how many nerves you have, or how much pressure you think is there, go have fun. You’re playing baseball, a game that you have played the majority of your life. This is a tough game with a lot of failure, so trust your abilities and don’t try to do too much. The scouts are there to rate your tools and evaluate what you can and can’t do on the baseball field. If you have abilities, they will see them. You have been invited to Pro Day for a reason, now go and showcase your reason. Remember, all it takes is one scout to like you.
About Taylor Black: Black was a 2007 graduate of Easley High School. He was a freshman All-American at Charleston Southern before playing his sophomore year at Spartanburg Methodist. From there he was drafted twice as a shortstop out of the University of Kentucky, eventually signing with the Philadelphia Phillies and enjoying a three year pro career. After that, he spent one season as a scout for Diamond Prospects before taking an assistant coach job at NC State, where he coached for three years. He now attends Pro Day as the area scout for the Detroit Tigers!