By: Austin Alexander - June 6-7, 2018
When any one of us thinks of June or any form of summer baseball, extreme heat and stong storms usually pops to mind quite quickly. On Wednesday & Thursday, the thermostat was throttled up but skies were clear with no threat of rain, not the norm for DP events! Once again we were at River Bluff High School and their insanely lush athletic facilities for Diamond Prospects' 13th Annual Summer Showcase. Morale was very high among the 50+ scouting contingent on hand plus DP Staff too, as this event typically launches the summer evaluation season for college coaches/pro scouts, and this year was no different. Per usual, new names emerged as we set the stage for them, that's the beauty of our 'open' showcases!
A solid mix of classic rock and country tunes continued to ring out of the PA system as two sessions of players were paraded through 60's, a defensive workout, batting practice and closing with bullpens before the games opened on Hump Day afternoon right at 3:59 pm.
The theme of this showcase, after being awe-struck at the River Bluff campus yet again, was of all of the young talent unknown (or unseen) to us and most scouts when we all arrived on Day 1. A heavy dose of rising sophomores and rising juniors (AC Flora 2020 Harmon Cox, top) forced themselves into claiming "legit follow" status, some with bonafide upside that had us very excited... there were some accomplished rising seniors (left, Midland Valley's Seth Richardson) that enhanced their stock too! And who could forget Hammond 2022 Tucker Toman (right) launching a pitch off of the football pressbox in Thursday's game? A couple dozen or more prospects even punched their ticket into the Palmetto Games, which made this a very productive couple of days!
Below we have chronicled what occurred between the lines over the 36 hours on the luxurious campus of River Bluff...the future is so bright in the Palmetto State, read our take on this summer showcase now!
DP Fist Bump I: River Bluff was a gracious host providing their immaculate facility that has set the bar for other prep digs while creating envy from many of the college coaches that attended. The place could not have been a more accommodating site, Coach Mark Bonnette and his support staff were always first-class before, during and after the event; we sincerely thank them for opening their gates to DP and we look forward to returning!
DP Fist Bump II: DP hit a snag in a Day 2, Game 1 that lasted 3:10 minutes, forcing Games 2 & 3 to begin a little later than scheduled...a DP rarity when weather was not an issue. We thank the college coaches that day that stuck it out but we are pleased to report that Game 3 ended four minutes early, which we consider a "W" for all!
Two claps & a Ric Flair...Whooo! White Knoll junior Jacob Bannister brought plenty of energy to the ballpark this week, energizing this dugout in a way we don't typically see at our 'open' events. Not only did he play the game with youthful zest, he made the experience a pure joy for the other 24 guys wearing orange on Day 2. Well-done young man!
Household Collision: In the Thursday finale, the Thurmond siblings from Rock Hill squared off 60'6" from each other as Jordan pitched against younger brother Kobe. Results you ask? One walk and sharp single for Kobe signaling a Round 1 & 2 win for the youngster! It was the first such appearnace at a DP event since 2014 when the rookie Kyle Baker from Spring Valley got his older brother out during a showcase at AC Flora.
Senior Note of the Day: Longtime MLB Bureau guru and present NY Mets scout Gary Randall kept his DP streak alive in attending all of our 54 events over the past 13 years, tip of the cap to our favorite tall friend and well-respected scout. "GR", as he is affectionately known, flew back directly from the Mets draft room to join us on Day 2... And the collegiate elder, USC Sumter skipper Tim Medlin ("19") made his usual appearance, he may remain the most appreciative college coach when it comes to DP events, he can certainly attest to what it was like chasing talent while scouring the countryside in a horse and buggy, just a few years before the internet, cell phones and DP! Not to be out-done, College of Charleston's Jim Toman was easily the first to arrive and did not miss a pitch or swing over the two days. "Storm" was a fixture in our state as the recruiting coordinator at USC from 1996-2007 before taking the head job at Liberty. Nothing like having 'the big guy' back on South Carolina soil... Folks, a little bit of baseball has been seen by these three men. Note to young coaches, shut up and listen when you find yourself at the same ballpark as any of them!