By: Austin Alexander - January 30, 2011
-Mother Nature oversees memorable day-
Sunday was a banner day for high school baseball, prep players, pro scouts and Diamond Prospects! Columbia's AC Flora High School played host to our most anticipated event of the year and every single component of a successful showcase collided... Temperatures were in the 70's, every Major League club was present, the playing surface was immaculate and the talent on the field commanded attention... plus we serviced each player in a tidy three hours.
The weather on this day was a far cry from last year's Pro Day when mid-30's temps followed a torrential snowstorm that had us improvising to the hilt. Not the case on Sunday as everything went off without a hitch!
DP's Pro Day has a very decorated list of players over its five year history but Hartsville's Jordan Lyles (left) may be the poster child as to how a big day in January can alter a career. Three years ago at the exact same place, Lyles wandered into AC Flora and proved that he was a name to know. He has spent every day since proving his worth in the game as he has sky-rocketed through the minor leagues and is projected to be in the big leagues with the Houston Astros this year at the age of 20. Lyles was back at AC Flora on Sunday to remember that moment, mingle and lay eyes on some of the players that may be the next Jordan Lyles.
With over 75 scouts and coaches huddled around each lane, we fired off the 60's at 11 a.m. and fifteen players shot through the finishline under 7.0, most under 6.8, led by St. James' Tanner English (left) at 6.39.
The defensive workouts followed and after English shot his bullets from rightfield, one infielder after another flashed actions and arm strength highlighted by Bruce Caldwell (right) perhaps, though it's tough to single out just one. The catchers were a group with high expectations and they did not disappoint with pop times hovering around or below 2.0. Hanahan's Skylar Hunter won their little contest chiming in at 1.82.
Time for BP! High school hitters wielding wood is not always the most endearing acts to witness, not so for most on this Pro Day. Several hitters shrunk the dimensions of the Flora wall, blasting baseball's deep into the woods in left and the street in right. Among some of the top rounds taken were by Bo Thompson (JL Mann), Gabe Craven (Summerville) and Ray Murphy (White Knoll). Hunter Cole (Dorman) may have walked away with the long distance award during his round with a couple of majestic shots.
The bullpens are what pulled in quite a few cross-checkers, and even a couple of scouting directors. The main attraction was Spring Valley's Taylor Guerrieri (left) as he shared his bullpen session with Byrnes' Daniel Gossett (right). It was three minutes of power pitching, combined with overall stuff from our state's top two arms. Neither threw a fastball under 91 MPH, with Gossett topping out at 93, Guerrieri at 94! Not to be out-done, Dillon junior Jamie Callahan took the velocity bronze medal by hitting 92. In all, seven different guys eclipsed 90, six others were at 88+... not too shabby for January!
While quite a few participants saw their stock rise, perhaps none more than Lexington's Nick Jobst (left). Jobst, a junior, did not play varsity baseball last year but made a splash by sitting on 90 during his pen. Clover's Hayden Hendry (right) had scouts buzzing with his 6.75/60, quality BP round and 6-2/180 frame.
The usual prospects showed up in all their glory and served as the cornerstone to a successful day, but the new names to scouts pushed the event into what we'd consider as the best day in DP history.
DP Note: A special thanks is in order to Andy Hallett and AC Flora High School. Their facility, field and accommodation to us was beyond first class... Tampa Bay Rays scout Brad Matthews for donating two dozen wood bats for players to use!