By: Austin Alexander - February 8, 2021
As Diamond Prospects' revs up the engine for our 16th prep baseball year and while the Holiday Season has now closed, a 2021 campaign awaits us, hopefully! The purpose of this 7th 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.
What a year it has been since that last letter from us to you. 2020 happened like a wrecking ball, shattering so many things and affected every single one of us in various ways. Along with The Pandemic leading to the cancellation of spring baseball and political/social unrest (just to name a few), what a whirlwind the last ten months have been. Each of us have had to re-route, adjust on the fly and tap into creative juices we never knew existed to stay afloat. Fortunately, when the green light came on for hardball, we all jumped on the gas pedal to view and play as much baseball as we could, simply because none of us knew when the rug could be pulled from beneath us.
Anyone reading this excerpt probably walked into a dozen or more new venues, just because they were available and baseball was 'allowed' on their diamond. Finding cages, bullpen mounds and serviceable dirt came a premium, forcing us to realize how priviledged we were one year ago.
So, as we all prepare for a season ahead full of hope and sincere wishes of a baseball campaign that resembles 'normal' our goal with the next five minutes of your time is to bring you up to speed, dp-style!
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 personal 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 vault DP 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...there was a time before social media, shocker!
For what it is worth, many of our emails these days surround why we did not see a given team a half dozen times! Sixteen 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 void 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 and baaeball men to help push our great game forward.
As result of the Covid quarantining that dashed so many dreams last spring, creativity kicked in at the DP headquarters and our first podcasts Zoomed, recorded and were disburst to our loyal supporters. In all, 19 separate interviews or chats were conducted over five months. Based on the analytics, you enjoyed it and we plan to produce more material for your listening pleasure! if you missed any of them, click here to catch up.
As the years have moved along, several new events were added through the great ideas of many different people. Our 15th 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. This year we named the event after the late Hall of Fame scout Lon Joyce. In the previous 14 Pro Day's, 178 participants have gone on to play professional baseball...which explains why nearly all 30 MLB clubs are represented most winters, averaging more than 90 scouts the past ten 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, 61% of attendees have been drafted over the years.
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. The 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 had 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. Due to Covid reasons, we moved the 2020 Palmetto games to Riley Park in Sumter to celebrate the 13th anniversary. Yankee icon, 1960 World series MVP and Sumter's own Bobby Richardson spoke to the participants and patrons before the first pitch, such a cool moment and pleasant surprise!
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. The 2018 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.
Over the past twelve years, our statewide DP scrimmages in February have been a resourceful tool for us to get a sneak peak of ballclubs before the games actually count. We have been able to stack 6-8 teams at one site on a Saturday, in many years when the weather cooperated we could view and break down 60-70 different rosters; many times locking in on 8-10 pitchers per staff and snagging a young name that may be behind some upperclassmen, yet shows serious promise. DP has ID'd so many prospects for the first time during these exhibition match-ups. Fortunately in 2020 we were able to pull off the February feat; unfortunately, changes to the SCHSL schedule in 2021 will prohibit such venues and opportunities. While we will certainly pound the pavement beginning in March, valuable evaluation time will be lost this time around.
Our 13th DP Developmental Fall League was another hit in 2020 as 95 teams covered the Upstate, Greater Rock Hill Leagues along with our third year in Lowcountry! Quite a bit of re-working had to be done this past fall but our commissioners and the many hard-working high school skippers fouled off curveballs from start to finish in getting their season completed! Plans to include other regional leagues in 2021 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 past seasons. Our All-Star sites are usually at Clemson, Winthrop and College of Charleston, this year Red Owens, Southside Christian HS and Chester HS helped us pull off the feat. Over the years, our various teams have played at five minor league stadiums and on twelve 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 30 consecutive 'full' showcases was extended. A special 2020 thanks to Columbia International for being our summer site and the Columbia Blowish opening their doors to us in November.
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 across this great state. 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' literally 365 days each year, especially this last one!
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!