By: Austin Alexander - June 11-12, 2019
When any one of us thinks of June or any form of summer baseball, extreme heat and strong storms usually pops to mind quite quickly. This week...in the legendary words of Forrest Gump, "we got every kind of weather they is..." After a month of statewide droughting, sure enough for every day 120 hours before the event, torrential rainstorms tormented the Columbia area. Once again we were at River Bluff High School and their insanely lush athletic facilities for Diamond Prospects' 14th Annual Summer Showcase, thank goodness we were there!
Adjustments galore ensued. Fortunately on Tuesday the skies broke and several breaks went our way to service each player in every way, though it was far from the original plan! Morale was very high among the close to 50 scouts who entrusted us with their valuable time 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! Historically, our staff that sees a ton of baseball year around is normally unfamiliar with most of the 'open' roster, not so this June as quite a few uncommitted but established prospects were with us. Then even more emerged!
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 Tuesday afternoon right at 4:05 pm, only 5 minutes behind. Our simulated games were actually became a blessing we were not promised hours earlier but enough sun dried the dirt areas better than adequate for pitcher vs. hitter, a catcher and four infielders. Batters were prohibited from running and there were no outfielders, which looked awkward, but some form of game action was offered to all eight teams on Day 1 because of the 90% threat that loomed on Day 2. Away we went, scouts stayed and quite a few guys were beneficiaries.
Our Day 2 fears were realized as the rain returned but everyone adapted again, several performances in the mid-60's temps unlocked berths into the Palmetto Games, to join the many who did the same thing on opening day.
The theme of this showcase was of all of the young uncommitted talent known to us when we all arrived on Day 1. A very close second was the weather...but who said God does not have a sense of humor as both days were led off by the swings of Reign Lybrand!
A heavy dose of rising underclassmen (Ben Lippen 2021 Will Taylor, pictured at top, and JL Mann 2021 Tristan Bissetta) forced themselves into claiming "legit follow" status, some with bonafide upside that had us all very excited... At least three dozen 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 MORE than 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, especially this time, 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!
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 58 events over the past 14 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 1...