Power arms, bats awe patrons & scouts!
By: Austin Alexander - January 26, 2020
Sunday was another banner day for high school baseball, prep players, pro scouts and Diamond Prospects! River Bluff High School played host to our most enjoyable event of the year, the 14th Annual DP Pro Day! After recent cold temps across the state, every single component of a successful showcase collided just in time...Heaven shined on us topping out at 56 degrees, 28 (out of 30) Major League clubs were represented, a top-flight facility and talent on the roster commanded attention too... plus we serviced each player in a tidy 3 hours and 15 minutes. It was a great day in every respect!
DP's Pro Day has a very decorated list of players over its thirteen-year history, 178 performers from this event have been drafted, many of which are still presently playing professional baseball, 17 Big Leaguer's once wore this same jersey, one of them performed on Sunday! There is a good chance that 2020's field will add to that total.
With just under 100 scouts and coaches huddled around a lane, we fired off the 60's at 10:00 AM and 14 players shot through the finish line under 7.0 seconds, Dutch Fork 2021 Will Taylor, left, (6.71) edged out Westwood 2020 Eddie Olmeda (6.72) to take top honors in this category.
Another aspect we began last year is putting the radar gun on defensive player's throws. The top outfield bolt came from Brody Hopkins (2020, Summerville) at 88 MPH for the second straight year; he was joined by Will Taylor as well at 88. The top velocity during the infield portion was turned in by Brody Fahr, right, (Riverside 2020) and Chris Veach (Chapin 2020), both registered 86 MPH across the diamond.
The catchers were also a group that did not disappoint as four of them registering a time under 2.00 seconds.Senior Cooper Ingle (Asheville, NC) won their popping contest shooting a 1.96, followed by junior Talmadge LeCroy, left, (Belton-Honea Path, 2021) at 1.98...
Then time for BP! High school hitters wielding wood is not always the most endearing of acts to witness, not so at Pro Day!
Fortunately this year's weather permitted us to hit on the field again as Clemson-bound left-handed hitters Caden Grice (Riverside) and Alex Urban (River Bluff, right) put on an exhibition with their lumber playing pepper with the 'ginormous' football press box wall in rightfield while several bolts cleared it all together landing on the football field! But they were not alone as ball after ball was deposited out of play. Many more guys stepped in and found the barrel at a high rate; Tucker Toman (Hammond, 2022), Garrett Dill (Greer, 2020) and Landon Lucas (Blythewood, 2020) to name a few. DP Disclaimer: The names in this category could be far longer. See video when available. DP Note: We lost an estimated 75+ baseballs due to the power display, but well worth the laser show!
The bullpens are what normally pull in quite a few cross-checkers, and even a couple of scouting directors in some years. With a minimal list of invited arms in 2020, we went one at a time on the live mound and a steady stream of upper-80's fastballs blew in, per usual. After former MLB left-hander and Pro Day alum Andrew Faulkner (left) led off the parade of arm talent, one legit guy after another took the mound to impress our new feature - Rapsodo! Boiling Springs sophomore southpaw Tristan Smith (pictured at top) started at 91 MPH and 'dropped the mike' with his final two pitches chiming in at 94 & 95 MPH respectively. The magic number 95 is the top bolt in the history of Pro Day!
Smith and Dante Chirico (Dutch Fork, 2020) ran away with the best overall 'stuff' this year, never throwing a fastball under 90 and filling up the zone with plus breaking balls...In all, on Sunday 23 different guys eclipsed the 88 MPH barrier, 6 more hit 87. Nine total moundsmen touched 90 MPH or better...not too shabby for January in cool temps!
The usual prospects showed up and served as the cornerstone to another successful event, but the new names to pro scouts pushed Pro Day into what we'd consider as very productive day for high school baseball in South Carolina, again!
ALL! Player Videos
Diamond Prospects' Firsts: DP's first Pro Day was in 2007 at Heathwood Hall, since then it has grown into a 'must attend/must see' event that has catered to its share of star prospects and banner displays over the years...so a DP 'first' is hard to come by these days! But, following Caden Grice's towering fireworks show during BP, a strong round of applause after a single performance, the first at least that any of us could recall. Not to be outdone, later on super soph Tristan Smith received a similar reception after his bullpen that had very seasoned scouts buzzing. With a field full of players that will go onto have successful baseball careers, two performances on Sunday will be ones that are recalled and talked about for years to to come!
AA Appreciates... At so many of our showcases, I am often told by coaches/scouts and some parents how well-run, well-organized, etc our events are, and typically they praise me personally - and that is much-appreciated. BUT, what you see at any DP event are the fruits of labor from so many awesome people that have their fingerprints on anything we do. As with any xyz, quality humans are imperative to any successful operation, we are no different. Selfishly I do believe our execution of a gameplan is a well-oiled machine, but only because of the folks there and behind the scenes too! So again, I want to publicly acknowledge my sincere appreciation of the legit guys and gals that I have been blessed enough to insulate myself with. Well-done DP family, together we are leaving our stamp on the futures of young men and a great sport!
DP Fist Bump: A special thanks is in order to Mark Bonnette, his coaching staff and River Bluff High School once again. Even in January, their 'Division I' facility and accommodation to us remains beyond first class, which is greatly appreciated by all in attendance! Coach Bonnette, we really appreciate the ways you have allowed us to advance baseball in our state!