By: Austin Alexander - February 13, 2019
As Diamond Prospects' embarks upon our 14th prep baseball year, and as the Holiday Season has now closed, a 2019 campaign awaits us! The purpose of this 5th annual The State of DP Address is aimed to accomplish a handful of things, mostly to inform our loyal viewers and pass out a few kudos as well.
DP came into inception a few moons ago, January 2006 to be exact! All the way back then, we burst onto the scene and coaches, players and parents everywhere were thankful...all of a sudden SC high school baseball was getting attention...noticed and scouting breakdown was being giving to on-field accomplishments away from the usual local publications.
This is where it becomes personal. Awesome contacts and great friends helped DP vault onto a new level!
Most reading this now will never understand. Essentially there was a time when prep baseball coverage was minimal...there was a time that parental emails were thankful in that someone rolled through their facility...
For what it is worth, many of our emails these days surround why we did not see a given team a half dozen times! Thirteen spring seasons ago when we emerged, folks were so pleased to have us at their game and excited about this new DP thing... Players and most parents now have never known a time before DP, and while we have raised the expectation levels of folks, coaches and scouts remember a time before Diamond Prospects existed. Through the work of an awesome staff, God's blessing of our goals and plenty of help along the way, it's very satisfying from my view to know that we have positively affected the landscape of high school baseball and recruiting in this state. We firmly believe that baseball in South Carolina has been advanced since 2006 through the work of so many people that helped us do our job!
Our staff of very credible baseball people are deployed each spring, summer and fall to beat the bushes, hunt and fish for prospects. I remain so blessed and our state is so fortunate that we have been able to assemble such a formidable group of scouts to help push our great game of baseball forward.
As the years have moved along, several new events were added through the great ideas of many different people. Our 13th Pro Day was a couple of weeks ago and quickly became a kick-off of the high school baseball season for players, but also the scores of pro scouts that flock to Columbia each January to get an early peak at the top prospects across South Carolina. In the previous twelve Pro Day's, 167 participants have gone on to play professional baseball...which explains why all 30 MLB clubs are represented most winters, averaging more than 100 scouts the past six years! Pro Day has become a DP staff favorite over the years with all of the high rollers present to see a grouping of prospects that possess tools-galore. Added note, 64% of attendees have been drafted over the years. Last year DP alum Carl Edwards, Jr made his second appearance speaking to the players and to show off his World Series ring! In January of 2017, we finally caught up with the times and hightened our level of viewership adding video with our prospect info, to view it click here.
The Palmetto Games is an event that has been the most identifyable that we host. It has become the all-star game in our state for the top underclassmen hailing from every corner of South Carolina, it is also a scouting bonanza. University of South Carolina AD and then Head Coach Ray Tanner was instrumental in getting this marquee weekend off the ground back in 2008 and we have never looked back. USC has been our gracious venue each summer for scouts and college coaches to lock in on 120 players, both committed and uncommitted, as premier prospects go toe-to-toe with the best-of-the-best that the Palmetto State has to offer. The 2018 Palmetto Games marked our 11th anniversary of something we are quite proud of!
In 2009, DP partnered Dynamic Baseball for our first South Atlantic Border Battle played at The College of Charleston. What a decorated cast of talent graced the diamond that year and every year since as seven players off of the original South Carolina roster have played in the MLB! The Border Battle pits the cream of the crop from the junior and senior classes as our Sandlappers square-off each fall against the top guys from North Carolina, Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. Last fall marked the introduction of our first Futures Game for the top freshmen and sophomores across 7 states, it was huge hit as well! The alumni list from this event is deep with household names in the baseball world from the various states as we have moved the site each year between various major colleges venues and pro stadiums, eventually settling into a centrally-located home in Holly Springs, NC. In 2012, Major League Baseball partnered us and our allies to suit the players up in MLB uniforms and to be coached by professional scouts and instructors. Pro baseball's influence at the Border Battle really did help evolve a very good event into one of the best showcase weekends in the country.
Our 11th DP Developmental Fall League was another hit in 2018 as 65 teams covered the Upstate and Greater Rock Hill Leagues along with our first year in Lowcountry! Plans to include other regional leagues in 2019 exist to provide an affordable, competitive weekday opportunity to gain time on the field without burning out pitchers, also without taking away from those still playing travel ball on the weekends. The Fall League has also proven to be a weekday recruiting option for many colleges during the past nine seasons. Our All-Star sites were at Clemson & Winthrop Universities again. Over the years, our various teams have played at five minor league stadiums and on eleven different Division I campuses, in addition to dozens of high school fields.
DP's "open showcases" are our best avenue to give every player in our state a legit opportunity to be evaluated and play past high school. Let's face it, not every player has an equal chance to move on; often because of geographical location, size of school, multiple sports...it's a long list as to why kids can fall through the cracks. Our 'open showcases' are filled each session with guys who get their applications in as one of the first 150 and to receive their shot in front of decision-makers! Last year was no different as our streak of 26 consecutive 'full' showcases was extended.
There are so many other aspects of Diamond Prospects that deserve mention but I will digress here and just invite viewers to peruse the website to see all the xyz of the game that we dabble in statewide. It is a great time to be involved in high school baseball right now, DP is humbled and honored to have a front row seat to the continued exploits by young men in the greatest game on Earth! While our staff is in a constant pursuit of perfection, we realize we will fall short of that in your eyes. But from where I sit, I could not be happier with our team and our 'perfect effort' 365 days a year!
Part II is a few words from three college coaches:
One Division I Head Coach said:
Diamond Prospects is the premier recruiting website for college coaches in our state and region. Through the website, game notes, showcase events and general awareness of all things baseball in South Carolina, it makes our jobs as college coaches much easier. We are grateful for this resource!
One Division I Recruiting Coordinator said:
I think Diamond Prospects has become a valuable asset for players, parents and coaches. Diamond Prospects, from a players perspective, has afforded kids the opportunity to be seen by college coaches who may have never decided to see a kid, especially the ones in the rural areas/smaller schools.
From a parents perspective, Diamond Prospects (which is run by a very reputable baseball guy) offers great insight about baseball in numerous ways. Diamond Prospects provides the opportunity for parents to better understand the game, the recruiting process, what’s expected in college/professional baseball and much, much more.
Diamond Prospects from the coaches side of things has helped numerous coaches throughout the southeast. DP allows coaches to attend multiple showcases throughout the year which will be run on time and on schedule, which is very much appreciated. The other big plus that DP offers to coaches is the Palmetto Games which bring together the best of the best players from the state of SC in a central location over the course of a 2-3 day period.
For me, if I know that DP may be going to a certain game, it will allow me the chance to run down another lead I may have on a player due to their game write ups/credibility. Diamond Prospects has allowed me the opportunity to sign many players over the last ten years that I may not have seen. Many kudos to a very well-run organization which I can only hope to continue to follow throughout my coaching career.
One JUCO coach and former player in DP era said:
Diamond Prospects has a HUGE impact on high school athletes and college coaches/professional scouts all over the place. The Diamond Prospects staff work tremendously hard to make the athletes job and coaches/scouts job much easier.
As a former player, the marketing it did was great. My HS teams games schedules were always available and the in depth write-ups by the staff members are honest and accurate. As a player, from the showcase events DP puts on to the write ups etc, Diamond Prospects can really put you on the map.
From a coaching standpoint, in-state recruiting has gotten a lot easier because DP. The staff members work extremely hard YEAR round to stay on top of rankings, games, etc. If I need to see a kid play or pitch, you can find out the next time that happens on DP. Game summaries are available. I don't even know if you can put into words what DP has done for College Coaches. I couldn't, and I know other coaches as well, could not imagine mapping out recruiting trips without this resource!