A Baseball Life…by those married to it

Diamond Prospects has been known to ask the tough questions to college coaches and pro scouts on various controversial topics. As these men give their lives to the game for low wages and make major sacrifices along the way, many leave behind a ‘better half’ while they beat the bushes for talent and spend much of their time living out of hotels. We have posed a handful of questions to three very supportive wives to give our viewers some perspective as to the ups and downs of being married to a person that parents and players want to see, talk to and absorb the time of. Below are the words of the wives of three men who have the power to change a young man’s life forever… The wife of an American League scout: Q-Give us an idea of what the pros and cons are of being the wife of a college coach/pro scout… A-The Pros are that I love sports and I can relate to his career. We have that in common and share that same love for the game. The cons are that he is away from home during his busy time…and alot of the demands of running a home and having a child gets tough. I also work two part-time jobs and it does get interesting at times. But in the big picture…you know it is only for a short time. Q-What kind of toll does his being gone a lot take on you/your children? A-Missing family time, sports events, practices with our son, and just the general day-to-day lives of our family. Most of the family day-to-day responsibilities fall on me when my husband is gone and traveling on his scouting duties. However, after about two weeks, things fall into place rather quickly and our daily routine becomes our new normal. Q-Take us thru the different seasons (spring season, summer, fall & winter) and how it causes you to adapt. A-Spring…My son and I adapt to doing everything together on our own very quickly…sometimes when my husband comes back home, we are doing things in our daily life a certain way…and my husband has learned to adapt to our daily lives. Summer…We try to travel some with him. This is a fun time together as a family. Fall…School has started and my son’s sports are in full swing…My husband is beginning to be home a little more, winding down from his scouting duties and responsibilities. Winter…We are home for approx 3 months without baseball…although he is preparing and planning for the upcoming scouting season, he is home and we enjoy that time together! By Mid-Jan we are ready to kick him out of the house!! LOL. We take our “main” vacation during that time, usually a cruise, or a trip to a Tropical Island. Q-Anything else you want us to know? A-It does take a special wife to help fulfill and support the role of a pro baseball scout. If a wife or soon to be wife is what I call “high maintenance” and cannot function in life alone, then being married to a professional baseball scout will be very challenging. When you can see the “big” picture and know that it is for a “time” it does not seem to be that big of an issue not having my husband around 24/7. I completely support my husband in his career as he supports mine. He spends a lot of time with our son during his “down” time – like taking him to school, church, etc… I also know that God comes first in our lives, and if for any reason I needed my husband at home for anything…he would be there for me in a heartbeat! Baseball is what my husband does for a living… however it does not define who he is as a husband and father. The wife of a college head coach: Q-Give us an idea of what the pros and cons are of being the wife of a college coach/pro scout…  A-There is only one true con to being a coaches wife and that is the time that my husband has to devote to his program which obviously takes away from his time with us. But, this con encompasses many things – less time spent on tasks at home, many “restrictions” as to when we can vacation or make weekend trips, having to attend functions (weddings, parties, etc) unaccompanied. However, for me the pros far out weigh the con. Getting to see my husband do something so well, something he loves, and something he is so passionate about is a blessing. He spent a year at home with us after our daughter was born and in that year it was very obvious that a huge part of his life was missing. He was born to coach and to be able to support him in that is definitely a pro. I also love baseball; so, for me, a pro is being able to attend his games and cheer on the team. We love beautiful days spent at the ballfield with our baseball family (and even the not so “beautiful” days that involve rain gear or blankets and heavy jackets). Q-What kind of toll does his being gone a lot take on you/your children?    A-It is definitely more difficult to manage our household without him more involved. It is up to me to see that things are done – cooking, cleaning, shopping, bill paying etc. It takes a great deal of time and effort to accomplish all that needs to be done in this area. I also work full-time so it is even more difficult to fit it all in. But, we make it work. We do what we can to get it all done and he helps out when he can. As for our daughter, as she is only 3.5 years old she has only recently started to realize his absence and currently I am able to manage that realization with a simple “Daddy will be home soon.”  Q-Take us thru the different seasons (spring season, summer, fall & winter) and how it causes you to adapt…  A-For us, spring is the easiest season. We know the schedule and when he’ll be home. We are able …

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DP Rankings: How they are built

By: Austin Alexander – June 28, 2009 Each time we publish our player rankings in the various classes, we are sure to come under fire from those of you who enjoy visiting our site. Many of our viewers are prep players and their parents, easily the most critical of the names they see, the names they don’t see and, of course, the order that they are ranked in…which we can understand and appreciate! So how much stock should be put into a ranking? Not just a DP ranking, but any ranking? I’ll explain it this way. A ranking is simply an opinion poll where the order of the teams or players is fully subject to the eye of the beholder. Take any draft in the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball as an example. Each year there are surprises that emerge as superstars, likewise, every year there are major busts who drain the funds of the organizations they sign with. Tom Brady was a 6th round pick, Courtney Brown was the 1st overall choice in 2000, what ever became of him? In the NBA, Sam Bowie was once drafted ahead of some fellow named Michael Jordan. How about future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza going in the 62nd round as a favor pick while the immortal Stan Royer was taken in the 1st round of that same draft as a catcher. You often see good trades and bad ones too, some work out, some don’t. The moral of the story, sometimes even the best in the business get it wrong. Scouting is a very imperfect profession, any good scout will tell you just that. Any ranking is simply as reliable as college football’s present method. When Diamond Prospects sits down with a very deep log of names, we exhaustingly pour a ton of time into getting the right names on the list and in the best order that we can, knowing all the while that we will be scrutinized with what we print. We’d like to take this time to address some very popular questions/concerns when we fire out our take on each class… Criteria for being ranked: Like college coaches and pro scouts, we put very little stock in a player’s statistics at the high school level. Evaluating is all about making a generalized opinion that combines information and viewings of the player, his makeup and body-type, the tools that are present and how those tools “project” in the years to come. Phrases we hear quite often: “His velocity is usually…last week he did XYZ… or he normally runs the 60 in…” Understand that pro scouts, college coaches and any other evaluator must go on what is seen on their radar gun, their stopwatch and with their own eyes. Opinions on players and evaluation reports cannot be turned in based on what a player previously did according to a rumor. For example, you’ll have to search high and far to find a college coach or scout that sat in a recruiting meeting or pre-draft conversation and put their name on what a parent said about their own kid. Seeing is believing, especially when your livelihood is on the line. How does a player fall in the rankings: This happens quite often, especially when a player emerges early on in the process. A simple explanation applies. While some guys fail to develop, many others players get better during their prep careers and that players’ stock shoots ahead of others. New names and talent are continuously bursting onto the scene and can land themselves in front of another player who may have also improved since the last ranking. Why is Player ‘X’ ranked at a different position than he plays for his high school: The long-short on this topic is that on a high school team, players may have to spend the majority of their time at a position that best fills the needs that his team has. Just because a given player has always been his team’s best shortstop does not, in any way, serve as proof that he profiles best at that position. Former Dorman and Gamecock standout Steven Tolleson is a perfect example. Growing up, every team that he played for, he was the shortstop, and a darned good one at that. Upon landing at USC, he found himself in both corner outfield spots and three infield positions. He eventually became their shortstop and has recently appeared in the Major Leagues as a second baseman for the Oakland A’s. Point here is that, a given player may project at multiple positions depending on what level of club you are representing and what their present needs may be. Who has input on a DP Ranking: Here at DP, I can assure you that we do our due diligence before we ever publish a ranking of any kind. In addition to many, many nights camped out in high school bleachers across the state, we usually allow 50+ people of importance to weigh in before you ever see a ranking. Will we get it right every single time, certainly not. Will you always agree with our choices, no chance! For that matter, it’s very difficult to get scouts who watch baseball for a living, to agree on a 1-10 in any class! We promise one thing, however, we do put our time in to make our rankings as accurate as humanly possible. Perhaps, that is also our subliminal way of suggesting that we frown upon parents trying to sway our opinions of their children! Take our DP Rankings for what they are, an educated opinion with plenty of input. However, rankings do not mean squat when it’s time to play baseball. If anything, a high ranking makes you a target, it certainly does not earn you one single hit or win. It does not necessarily earn you a scholarship or college opportunity. Players who are not ranked or are ranked low, understand that a ranking is far from a death sentence. Regardless of where a …

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MLB Draft: 2009

– MLB Draft: Day 1 – {seyretpic id=12 align=right}Owings to Diamondbacks in 1st: Gilbert High School SS Christopher Owings (left) was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 41st pick overall in the 2009 MLB Draft on Tuesday. Owings has signed with South Carolina. – MLB Draft Notables – SC Collegians Represented… College players selected from out-of-state: Ben Paulsen (Clemson, Rockies-3rd), Chris Dwyer (Clemson, Royals-4th), Justin Dalles (USC, Orioles-5th), Nick McCulley (Coastal Carolina, Cardinals-9th), Sam Dyson (USC, Athletics-10th), Casio Grider (Newberry, Dodgers-14th), Graham Stoneburner (Clemson, Yankees-14th), Tyler Bortnick (Coastal Carolina, Rays-16th), Kevin Nolan (Winthrop, Blue Jays-20th), Matt Mansilla (C of C, Tigers-22nd), Joey Bergman (C of C, Marlins-22nd), Michael Gilmartin (Wofford, Athletics-27th), Brandon Sizemore (C of C, Brewers-30th), Nick Ebert (USC, Yankees-31st), Oliver Santos (USC Salkehatchie, Reds-35th), Wes Wrenn (Citadel, Mets-35th), Mike Freeman (Clemson, DBacks-36th), Jesse Simpson (C of C, Cardinals-40th), Matt Sanders (Clemson, Rockies-41st), Parker Bangs (USC, Pirates-46th), Addison Johnson (Clemson, Athletics-48th), Josh Edgin (Francis Marion, Braves-50th)… – MLB Draft: Day 2 – Hall, Hyatt selected in 4th Round: TL Hanna High School RHP Brooks Hall (left) was chosen in the 4th Round (#136) of the MLB Draft on Wednesday by the Milwaukee Brewers. {seyretpic id=10 align=left}USC Sumter RHP BJ Hyatt (right) was selected in the same round (#131) by the Houston Astros. Hyatt prepped at Wade Hampton HS. Hall has signed with South Carolina and Hyatt to Kennesaw State. Younginer to Red Sox in 7th: Mauldin High School RHP Madison Younginer (right) {seyretpic id=22 align=left}was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 7th Round (#228th). Younginer has signed with Clemson. Witherspoon to Angels in 12th: Spartanburg Methodist College OF Travis Witherspoon (left) was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 12th Round (#381). Witherspoon prepped at Sumter High and has signed with Georgia Southern University (GA). del Pino to Reds in 27th: Dorman High School LHP Stefan del Pino (left) was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 27th Round (#809). del Pino has signed with Coastal Carolina. Palmetto Preps Taken: Four-year college players that hail from our state selected in the Draft… Thomas Berryhill-right (Newberry/Aynor, Braves-5th Rd), John Murrian (Winthrop/Stratford, Tigers-9th), Richard Jones (Citadel/Wilson Hall, Cubs-9th), Ryan Hinson (Clemson/Northwestern, Padres-10th), DeAngelo Mack (USC/Airport, Yankees-13th), Chris McGuiness (Citadel/James Island, Red Sox-13th), Keith Campbell (Everett CC/Eastside, Rangers-15th), Matt Crim (Citadel/Stratford, Braves-21st), Trey Delk (Clemson/SMC/Lugoff-Elgin, White Sox-29th), Brian Fogle (Erskine/Lexington, Rangers-30th)… – MLB Draft: Day 3 – Trapp, Fuesser selected in 34th Round: Fairfield-Central High School INF Justin Trapp (right) was chosen in the 34th Round (#1022) of the MLB Draft on Thursday by the Kansas City Royals. Walters State (TN) LHP Zac Fuesser (left) was selected in the same round (#1015) by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fuesser prepped at York HS. Trapp has signed with Coastal Carolina and Fuesser just completed his freshman year at the junior college. {seyretpic id=20 align=left}Faulk to Braves in 38th: North Myrtle Beach OF Tripp Faulk (right) was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 38th Round (#1137). Faulk has signed with Wingate University (NC). Christman to Rangers in 44th: USC Sumter RHP Tyler Christman was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 44th Round (#1324). Christman prepped at Sumter HS and was a freshman for the Fire Ants this spring. {seyretpic id=19 align=right}Holmes to Braves in 47th: Conway High School RHP Colby Holmes (left) was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 47th Round (#1408). Holmes has signed with South Carolina. {seyretpic id=17 align=left}Powell to Indians in 47th: Greenwood High School RHP Christian Powell (right) was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 47th Round (#1415). Powell has signed with the College of Charleston. Burnside to Dodgers in 48th: Laurens High School OF Travis Burnside (left) was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the the 48th Round (#1447). Burnside has signed with Spartanburg Methodist College. Godley to Mets in 50th: Bamberg-Ehrhardt High RHP Zack Godley was selected by the New York Mets in the 50th Round (#1514 overall). Godley has signed with Spartanburg Methodist College. Palmetto Preps Taken: Four-year college players that hail from our state selected in the Draft… Alex Farrotto (USC/Riverside, White Sox-34th), Blair Carson (Anderson/Westside, Reds-42nd), Matt Branham (USC Upstate/Spring Valley, Astros-47th), Clinton McKinney (Clemson/Greenville, Rockies-48th)…

Draft Breakdown: 2009

2009 MLB Draft Breakdown By: Austin Alexander, June 8-9, 2009 In a year that professional scouts will admit there was more prep talent in South Carolina than recent years, ten young men managed to have their names called over the three-day event, three players in the first seven rounds. The longer you follow the draft, the more you think you understand it. Just the opposite is true, however! Any baseball sage will tell you it is really a crapshoot! Many variables come into play when you sit back and look at the picks, the rounds they fell in and the names that get passed over. One term people must understand is “signability”. Especially near the top of the draft. In many cases, most of the players selected in the first 5-7 Rounds are similar in ability. Maybe in the Top 15 Rounds? Conventional wisdom tells you that the first pick in the draft must be the best player and that the last pick is the 1,521st best player in the country. Not so. A player’s signability can vault him near the top of the board; low signability can force that player to fall through the draft entirely. Scouts often spend more time researching a player’s signability than they do evaluating their talent. We’ve all heard of clubs that take a kid in the top two rounds and cannot come to terms with him. Sometimes it is because the area scout has not done his due research or he would have known better than to select that player that high in the draft. But it has also happened before that a player and his family was not truthful as to their dollar figure. Sometimes a player’s "advisor" or his known desire to attend school will force his draft stock to fall, though he may be a first rounder ability-wise. A couple of examples: In 2006, Florida University first baseman Matt LaPorta fell to the 15th round and 433rd pick of the draft. It was believed LaPorta was a sure-fire first-rounder but in the days before the draft he hired agent Scott Boras to represent him. Boras’ reputation with big-leaguers is well-earned as he has some of the top clients in the game. But, some big league organizations had begun a trend, however, of steering away from his players in recent drafts to avert expensive, drawn-out negotiations. As high school seniors, South Carolina products Justin Smoak and Reese Havens were projected to go high in the draft. In the moments leading up to early picks for the Boston Red Sox, both were contacted once more in an attempt to agree to terms before they were selected. Both declined lucrative deals citing that their intention was to play college baseball. As a result, Smoak fell to the 16th round, Havens to the 29th. Both were later selected in 1st Round as college juniors out of USC.  In each case, though for opposite reasons, these players had a “low signability” tag, thus falling to lower rounds. Clubs have until midnight of August 17th to agree to terms with a draft pick. Some of the early rounders will forego the drama and sign quickly so they can begin their journey to the big leagues. Others will drag it out until the deadline in an attempt to drain every penny out of a club. Many players chosen will continue to be under the watchful eye of the organization that selected them in case they make a significant jump during the summer, in which the club may, then, offer a contract or "up the ante" in an attempt to sign the player. Draft picks are made largely on a players present “tools” and how he “projects” down the road. Many selections will turn the heads of baseball people. More selections will blow the mind of casual fans because the layman only sees black or white, ie. base hit versus out, win versus loss. Understand, just because a pitcher strikes out Christopher Owings does not automatically vault that arm to prospect status. If a good high school pitcher beats Mauldin High School with Madison Younginer on the mound, it does not mean he will see his name on a draft board. When a "punching judy" flairs one into the outfield off of Brooks Hall, that does not guarentee that he will even play past high school. If a fast runner steals two bases off of Richard Jones, it does not necessarily mean he has a future in professional baseball! See where I am going with this? Scouting is not a science. Players do get over-scouted and some do get over-looked. By in large, however, these guys who scout for a living are good at what they do. VERY good, in fact! They run up thousands and thousands of miles raiding the countryside away from their families looking for the next Derek Jeter and Josh Beckett. Sure, they’ll miss on guys from time to time but they are still smarter than most of us and their eyes keener than you can imagine. Did they find the next MLB All-Star in our state in 2009? Only time will tell. Below we have broken down the 2009 Draft: *Note: Players accounted for either played high school or college baseball in South Carolina this spring. Selected Day 1 (1-3 rds) Day 2 (4-30 rds)  Day 3 (31-50) SC Players 2 25  16 College players 1  22  10 HS players 1 3   6 Pitchers 0  13   12 Catchers 0 3   0 Infielders 2  7   5 Outfielders 0  4  3 Division I 1  16   10 Division II 0  3   2 Junior College 0  3   3 Total players 556 946   Rd 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 * 13  8 8  10  11 By College: 9-Clemson; 6-South Carolina, 4-College of Charleston, 4-Citadel, 2-Coastal Carolina, 2-Winthrop, 2-Newberry, 2-USC Sumter, 2; Seven others with one apiece.

A Baseball Parent’s Farewell

~ Baseball Memories ~ Our hands were busy throughout each day We didn’t have near enough time to play The baseball games you asked us to We didn’t make enough time for you. —————— You’d come and ask us catch can we play Sometimes we’d answer maybe another day Thus asking us to please share your fun Mostly we would say a little later son. —————— Your games were great especially at night Home to watch sports center then turn out the light Then we’d tiptoe softly out your bedroom door Now we wish we’d stayed a minute more. —————— The memories we have of you make us so proud We hoped you knew it when shouting your name out loud It taught you to hustle and always be at your best every day Even though we weren’t there as we should to see every play. —————— For our lives are so short, the years rush past Once a little boy now grown up and gone so fast No longer in Derek Jeter pajamas are you at my side With precious team trophies on your dresser to show your pride. —————— The baseball bats and balls are finally put away There are no more youth league games to play No packing coolers filled with good eats No cleaning off your baseball cleats. —————— We no longer run around in a tizzy fit Looking everywhere for your favorite mitt No good luck hug and kiss, no cheers to hear For that all belongs to yesteryear. —————— Just one last time we’d like to hear the roar Of a coach saying we’re tied let’s play one inning more We’d pay anything for a picture of you catching one at the wall It would warm my heart to hear the umpire say, Let’s Play Ball. —————— Mom’s hands once busy washing uniforms now are still Dad’s days without practice schedules are long and hard to fill More than anything in the world we wish we could go back and do All the backyard requests you asked us to … ~ A Baseball Parent ~

Diamond Notes: Tools of Ignorance

By: Richard Edwards – March 27, 2009  It’s been quite a few years ago but I still remember coming home from my first organized baseball experience and being asked by my mother, "What position are you playing?" I don’t recall the exact thought process that went into my decision. Maybe it’s because there never was really any other position for me. I told her, "Catcher" and practically saw her eyes begin to water. Being eight years old, I really didn’t understand what the problem was. I mean, why wouldn’t anyone want to catch and get to wear all that equipment? It was a neat thing for me. Others that thought it took the intelligence of a mule to want to play there might beg to differ with my opinion. To them, the catcher’s mask, chest protector and shin guards are truly "tools of ignorance". Either Bill Dickey or Muddy Ruel, who caught for the great Walter Johnson in the 1920’s, came up with the phrase "tools of ignorance". Both claimed its origin came from an ironic contrast between the intelligence needed to play the position with the foolishness required to play something that requires that much equipment to protect you from injury. The equipment has changed quite a bit over the years. Skull caps and hockey style masks are designed today to protect the catcher from foul tips. I remember just turning your regular cap backwards. I guess I’m showing my age by saying that. Los Angeles Dodgers’ trainer Bill Buhler designed and patented the throat protector that dangles from the masks of most catchers and quite a few umpires after Dodger catcher Steve Yeager was hit with part of a broken bat in the neck, piercing his esophagus, while he waited in the on-deck circle in a 1976 game. Today chest protectors are equipped with flaps to better cover the shoulder area. Shin guards are designed to protect even part of the area above the knee and on top of the foot. Knee savers were designed to protect the ligaments of the catcher’s knees. Technology has come a long way. I was not excluded from injuries during my playing career. I was blessed with a great throwing arm and loved being the last line of defense to preventing a run. I only remember one year, when I was 12, that I did not do a lot of catching. That year, I played shortstop and pitched. But at 13, it was back behind the dish and doing what I did best. Growing up in Minnesota, I naturally had an appreciation for ice hockey. I remember playing a little game within a game blocking pitches in the dirt. If the ball got past me, it was like the puck going in the net and the light coming on. It was my job to sacrifice my body to keep that from happening. Often that resulted in badly bruised arms and legs. That didn’t bother me though because there was no better feeling than crouching behind a plate and playing the game that I loved. Being the last line of defense meant you would be faced with collisions at the plate. Back in my day, there were no protective rules about sliding to avoid those collisions. You were fair game as the runner churned toward home. I remember two collisions to this day. One knocked me a little silly (my wife thinks there may have been permanent damage) and the other resulted in a chin cut that required me to leave the game to go to the hospital to get stitches. I didn’t notice the cut until I was calling signals to the next batter and saw blood dripping down on my uniform pants. I have a scar on my chin as a reminder of that incident. After those two plays, I had a deep understanding of what Ray Fosse felt in the 1970 All-Star game when Pete Rose bowled him over at the plate and dramatically altered his career. If you or your son catches today, count it a blessing that safety rules have been put in to prevent serious injuries involving plays at the plate. My only real serious injury came in the pre-season of my freshman year of high school on the varsity squad. I had made the team as a ninth grader and was challenging for the starting position. It would turn out to be a high and a low point of my playing career. Unfortunately for me, I got lazy in batting practice one day and rested my throwing hand on my right leg only to have a foul tip glance off a bat and crush one of my knuckles. Not a smart thing on my part. I finished the practice by rolling the ball back to the pitcher and went home and hid the injury from my parents over the weekend, hoping that it if I soaked it, it would just magically go away. That wasn’t very smart either and the injury didn’t go away. My hand swelled up like a balloon and I missed the entire season. That was a real bummer. But, I got the cast off after several weeks, was playing the next day, and was back behind the plate before long, even though that was an awkward feeling. A lot of catchers don’t hit particularly well, at least for average. That was the weakest part of my game. To this day I blame some of it on poor eye sight that was not corrected until I was in college. There’s a distant chance it could have been a lack of hitting skill but I’ll stick with the former reason. I’m just guessing but catchers probably hit for a lower average than any other position on the field, other than pitchers. If you don’t know or have ever wondered why, read the previous few paragraphs of this article over again. Along with bumps and bruises from foul tips and blocking balls in the dirt, with …

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Diamond Notes: DJ’s Daily Journal

By: DJ Rhodes- March 15-21, 2009 The First Baptist High School Hurricane baseball team has taken a week-long trip to Viera, FL to participate in the Westminster Sunshine Classic. Head coach DJ Rhodes is keeping a daily journal of the trip and has shared his entries with DP readers: -Friday, 3/20/09- After almost three hours of sleep, it was time for a little breakfast then off to the field for our third game of pool play. The opponent was Cambridge Christian from Tampa, Florida. Finally, a school of about two hundred high school students, about the same as us! They came into the game 2-0 in pool play and we knew we had a fight on our hands. We also knew the winner was probably going to end up in the championship game vs. the other pool’s #1 seed, Charlotte Christian. On the mound for the Canes was sophomore Marlin Morris. He was 81-83 from the left side and worked his changeup in as he only allowed the Lancers one hit through four innings. Offensively, First Baptist scratched a run in the second and fourth innings and carried a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning. Morris though has been battling a slight bit of tendonitis in his elbow since January and the season still has long to go, so enter senior Tyler Graves, the right-hand sidearm slinger, to change up things for the Cambridge hitters. Unfortunately, he did not have his control this day and walked two before the Lancer’s Trent Tagliarini, a Quincy University (Div. II) signee, roped a two-run double off the left center field wall. To shut their opponent down, First Baptist brought in center fielder Josh Hickman to finish the game. He did not disappoint. He struck out five batters through the seventh inning, but the score was still 2-2. Free baseball for those in the stands, and now the Canes didn’t really care about their lack of sleep. After another K for Hickman in the 8th, the Lancers were issued a walk, advanced on a wild pitch, then on a 3-2 count with two outs and a runner on second squirted a ground ball through the middle to score the go ahead run. It was like the life was sucked out of us, but we gave it our best shot despite, afterall, we did have our 3-4-5 hitters coming up. Hickman led off and beat out a infield single with a diving slide to first. The Lancer’s closer, Tagliarini, would have no more though as he got Ryan Walker to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and then retired Brandon Stone for the final out. We couldn’t have fought any harder, and the only words I heard from the opposing coaches and other tournament teams lined down the fence watching the game was that our schedule just wasn’t fair and that we had a heck of a ball team. All good things to hear, but I wanted to see how the team reacted to going from a possible 1st place game to now playing two hours later in the 5th place game. 2:30 in the afternoon rolled around and it was play ball for the final time in Florida. The opponent was another Oklahoma bunch, Cascia Hall, a Catholic school from Tulsa. I quickly realized that despite the chatter from both dugouts, this was going to be a battle of attrition and who could fight through the pain the most. Starting for the Canes was junior Ricky Padgett, who moved the ball effectively around the zone but got into trouble with walks. Fortunately, our offensive was on attack and score 3 runs in the first two innings and create a tied ballgame after three innings of play. The exhaustion on the faces of everyone was apparent and it really did seem to be a bit of a blur of a baseball game. Except for one person, sophomore Lawton Hendricks who came into to pitch the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings and did not give up a run and only gave up two hits. Well placed strikes and good off-speed stuff can get the job done just about every time. Lesson for all pitchers to be learned! In the 5th inning, after working the bases loaded with sophomores Larson Walker, Lawton Hendricks, and Matthew Burton, the Canes picked up a run off a walk to Drew Rhodes, but then grounded into a double play to end the inning. Then, in the 6th, one more insurance run was picked up off the bat of Burton and the Canes were up 5-3. To close it out, junior Clayton Smith took the mound and looked the strongest the year yet. He was 83-85 consistantly and hit 87 a few times. While he did issue a leadoff walk that stole second, took third, then was scored on a sacrifice, he struck out the next batter and then got the final out to fly out to right field. Canes win, 5-4. It was over. The trip was amazing. We saw so many things while down here like a space shuttle launch, spring training games, and even Team USA in the bottom of the 9th pull out a win! We also saw rain and rain, and more rain, but it was all worth it. The quality of teams we played while down here and the intensity of the games was more than I could ask for. The boys from Charleston didn’t do too bad either. Congrats to Ryan Walker for making the All-Tournament team with a .556 average, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and 1 save in pool play. So, 2-2 and a 5th place finish isn’t too shabby, although I could see on the players faces they were disappointed and wanted more. Hopefully the thought of this trip will be motivation for them later in conference play and again in a playoff run! -Thursday, 3/19/09- After all of Wednesday being a wash and many hours spent in the hotel and walking around malls in …

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Diamond Notes: Three Days in Paradise

By: Austin Alexander – March 14, 2009 Here at Diamond Prospects, we take great pride in the fact that we beat the bushes and do a ton of hunting for that next diamond in the rough or local phenom that is not known outside his area. Since starting in January of 2006, I believe we have done a good job of that, thus making the task of college coaches and professional scouts a little bit easier. But while fishing for players, we often have to sit through games with little talent on the field, that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy and are just a notch better than a little league game. We certainly see and hear our share of craziness, enough to write a book! However, every once in a while, we have to treat ourselves to quality games and clear our eyes by indulging in pitching match-ups that were sent to us from heaven. This past week I had a three day string of games that would make most evaluators extremely jealous! On Tuesday, I mosied up to Gaffney to see the Indians host #1 Dorman. During the contest I saw four different pitchers run it up to 88 MPH, with junior Tyler Wilson sitting in the low-90’s. I cannot recall the last time, if ever, that I saw something like that in the same game. An added bonus was that several seniors had committed to play in college and also graced the lineup card. Wednesday was a day I will never forget. More than 75 professional scouts (left) were at Mauldin High School to see the showdown between Mavericks’ senior Madison Younginer and TL Hanna senior Brooks Hall. Both are likely to go very high in the June draft and both made the radar gun dance! Hall touched 95 several times and Younginer sat in the mid-90’s, even flashing a 97 on the Stalker beside me. Once again, a first for me, two prep guys hitting magic numbers in the same ballgame! While the above mentioned games were pleasing from a scouting standpoint, a little was left to be desired in terms of the final score as both ended at 10-0 and in 6 innings… Thursday would prove to be a little more engaging from every angle. Byrnes sophomore Daniel Gossett toed the rubber on a very cool night and Spartanburg countered with another sophomore, RHP Ben Kyle. Kyle matched the Clemson signee zero for zero until handing the ball over to another tenth grader, Brandon Landrie in the fourth. Ranked #1 and #2 by DP in the 2011 class, both arms worked around defensive woes and impressed on the field while blowing up the gun too. Both pitchers flashed more than a few 88’s with quality breaking stuff, meanwhile 3 unearned runs led to a 2-1 Spartanburg win. Several DP scouts are now rocking the Stalker Sport 2 and what a way to christen the new and improved, pint-sized version! When readings started chiming in on the website, several texts and emails questioned our accuracy. But I went to see velocity, and velocity I saw! Even though my entire adult life has been spent tracking baseball talent and watching high school games, I cannot recall that I have ever seen four different 88’s in one game or two 95’s in one game or two sophomores up to 88 in one game, national tournaments and showcases not included. But to sit in on these feats in consecutive nights was, indeed, a sight for sore eyes! The viewing of pure talent is always a shot in the arm for evaluators, I had mine last week and cannot wait for the poor weather to clear out so DP can uncover some more unknown names! And to the young men whose arms prompted the above words, thank you for creating a little bounce in my step!

2009 RBI Preview

By: DP Staff Writer – March 4, 2009 Anyone who is unable to attend the IP Classic but still wants to see quality prep baseball should plan to camp out at White Knoll High School starting Thursday afternoon. Coach Jonny Thompson and his staff have changed the name and format of their preseason tournament to give it more of a "tournament" feel. What has been known previously as the Michelin Classic (played over 7 days) has been transformed into the Red Bank Invitational (RBI) and will now be played during a four-day period. The RBI will not take precedent over the prestigious IP Classic but with the quality of the field assembled, it will run a close second. This year’s field consists of seven AAAA Schools and perennial AAA power A.C. Flora. Every school in the field touts top prospects, quality coaching and potential to make a deep run in the playoffs in 2009. Here is a capsule of the 2009 field: Laurens Raiders – Coach Dale Nelson and company come in to the RBI off back-to-back Region Championships and District Finals appearances. They are led by Travis Burnside (SMC) and Dre Watts (CofC), right. The Raiders have a talented group around these two stud arms and are a strong candidate to compete for the Upper State title. Laurens will also call on outfielder Adam Taylor and junior infielder Tori Patterson to produce in the line-up this season. White Knoll Timberwolves – Coach Jonny Thompson and staff are looking to continue their strong success of the last two seasons. The Wolves, once again, find themselves without their "ace" returning on the bump but have several quality arms who are ready to get the job done. Seniors Corey Holmes (FDT) and Todd Joyner (FDT), left, will combine to lead the offensive punch for the Wolves. Infielder Josh Sealey provides a plus glove in the middle infield and Austin Dunn will anchor the staff behind the plate, while junior Zack Smith will hold down the 3-hole. Spring Valley Vikings – The Vikings roll into the RBI after sharing the Region title in 2008. Senior LHP Jake Zokan (CofC) will give the Vikings a strong chance to win every time he has the ball in his hands. Along with Zokan, outfielders Jeremiah Jackson (USC-Salk), Joc Brunson (right) and catcher Andrew Floyd will give the Vikings a strong senior class. INF/RHP Jared Keels will combine with several other underclassmen to help round out Coach Charlie Wentzky’s squad. A.C. Flora Falcons – After appearing in back-to-back AAA State Finals (2007 Champs) the Falcons bring a strong resume to the table. Coach Andy Hallett’s squad was, again depleted by graduation, but they have a solid group ready to step in and keep the program in tip-top shape. Seniors Alex Mitchell and Joseph O’steen will combine with Russell Gahagen to anchor the rotation. Senior James Newman and Junior Connor Lewis will provide the thump in the Falcons order. The Falcons will also rely on the dependable Duy Phan at short and to help set the table for the power bats. Flora also has one of the state’s top freshman in David Houser (left). Lexington Wildcats – Coach Tommy Mishoe will, yet again, have a strong club in 2009. The Wildcats have to replace Gus White (Wofford) on the bump, but have a foursome who are capable of doing the job. Seniors Robert Hendrix (Limestone) and Derek Smith will team with juniors John McInnis (right) and Alex Brooks to lead the Wildcat rotation. Senior Matt Van Lann (Charleston Southern) arm injury will hamper him in ’09 and prove to be a void in the lineup. Lexington is the defending champion of this tournament and has the potential to win it again. Dutch Fork Siver Foxes – Coach Randy Johnson is in his first year at the helm of the Dutch Fork program after taking over for legendary Coach Al Berry. Coach Johnson inherited a group that lost three seniors off last years Region Co-Champion team. Seniors Chad Balderman (Limestone), left, and Tyler Martin (Mars Hill) will team with Matt Radford (Jr) to give the Foxes a quality front line staff. Limestone commitment, Will Keel (Sr), provides a quality glove in the middle infield and brings a few years experience to table. Switch-hitting catcher Ryan McPhail will anchor the team behind the dish to continue Silver Fox tradition of having a solid backstop. Blythewood Bengals – The Bengals will head into AAAA for the first time in the school’s existence this season. Coach Barry Mizzell’s team will use the experience they gained from its Upper State runner-up finish a year ago. Senior Michael Hanzlik (Gardner Webb), left, will lead a young staff that will also feature senior Will Smith. Daniel Andreu (USC-Sumter) will team with Hanzlik to provide a solid middle infield for the Bengals. Offensively the Bengals will be led by USC commitment Grayson Greiner (Soph). Although the Bengals are making the step up to AAAA this season, they have the talent to be competitive immediately. Sumter Gamecocks – After losing the battery of Matt Price (USC) and Tony Micklon (PC), many programs would struggle the following year. However, Coach Brooks Shumake will have plenty of able bodies to fill in and several returners who are back for what seems like the sixth year! Junior Stephen Curtis will provide power to the Gamecock order and will also give the Cocks a solid pitcher on the bump. Curtis will team with junior Tyler Smith and Bruce Caldwell (Soph) to give the Gamecocks a solid staff. Caldwell and Stephen Stafford will also help pace the offensive unit for the Gamecocks. If history holds true, count on Coach Shumake to have another young diamond in the rough this year contributing for his squad, it may just be sophomore Jeremy Buckner (right). For updated information stemming from this tourney, click here.

2009 IP Classic Preview

By: Austin Alexander-March 4, 2009 Any baseball player, coach, scout or fan in South Carolina is well-aware of the International Paper Classic’s significance on the Palmetto State’s prep landscape. Going into its 19th year of existence, the battle by the paper mill has done nothing but gain momentum from its humble beginnings. In 1991 the idea was adopted and put into action by bringing four in-state teams in for a double-elimination tournament. Since then, the tourney has undergone several facelifts ranging from expanding the field to eight clubs to a period of time when half of the participating teams were from outside our borders. Since 2000, the beloved birthplace of pre-season tournaments has been in the capable hands of Ms. Alicia Johnson. It has been on her watch that the four-day affair has seen incredible growth in interest, attendance and with the historical facility itself. ————————————————————– We had a recent Q and A with Ms. Johnson about the tournaments past and present. She was able to provide us additional information about the tourney’s yesterday’s and on the upcoming weekend.   DP-What has this tournament come to represent for the people of Georgetown? AJ-The IP Classic has become one of the top community events in Georgetown. We are so fortunate to have the generosity and support of International Paper because without them we would not be able to put on a tournament of this caliber. The entire community rallies around this tournament. It is like Christmas in March for the Georgetown Baseball family-there is a lot of preparation and build-up months in advance and a let-down feeling after it is all over. Many Georgetown Baseball parents save their vacation days to take during the IP Classic. Former students and players come home for the weekend to come to the IP Classic. DP-Give us some insight as to how the tournament field is selected: AJ-Picking the IP Classic participants is such a difficult job because of all of the top caliber baseball programs in our state. We try to select teams who are believed to have the potential to win it all as well as teams with top-flight prospects. We try to pick a balance of upper and lower state teams as well. There hasn’t been a lot of change in the AAA field the past couple of years, but Riverside and Brookland-Cayceare the perennial powers in AAA. Georgetown gets to play in the tournament as the host. In 4A, we really focused on the teams that had the strongest playoff runs a year ago and which clubs had quality talent returning. DP-Which 2009 match-ups seem the most intriguing? AJ-On Day 1 we have the re-match of last year’s 4A Championship with Boiling Springs and Conway hooking back up in a much-anticipated game, big crowds are expected for that one. Of course Dorman and Boiling Springs will square off in a non-region game between two teams that are very familiar with one another. Riverside and Brookland-Cayce has become a good rivalry with some interesting storylines this season! We are very excited about our 2009 field and expect to see a number of well-played games. ————————————————————- Indeed the IP Classic has, once again, assembled a group of clubs that will attract a high volume of coaches and scouts. Georgetown serves as the host team and has been apart of every tourney since the very first one. Three clubs are making their first appearance at the IP Classic, four were there a year ago and DP’s #1 team Dorman will show up in Georgetown for the fourth time in search of their first title. Riverside has taken home the hardware three times, the most of any other team. Let’s take a look at this year’s field and how they have fared in this tourney. Team Capsule and IP Classic History  Team  Total Appearances*  Last Appearance  Titles  Belton-Honea Path  0  –  –  Boiling Springs  0  –  –  Brookland-Cayce  8  2008  1  Conway  3  2008  –  Dorman  4  2007  –  Georgetown  19  2008  –  Riverside  9  2008  3  Wando  0  –  0 * Includes 2009’s appearance While collegiate baseball schedules make it very difficult for coaches to hit the road in the spring, most view the Thursday night and Friday games as "can’t miss" match-ups. Over the years it has also become an opportunity for many of these coaches, who believe it or not are very good friends, to get together during an otherwise very busy period of the year. In recent years, the NCAA has implemented a recruiting calendar that keeps Division I coaches off the recruiting trail from mid-November until March 1, for many, the IP Classic kicks off the new evaluation season. ————————————————————– Double A’s Take: Having been a high school baseball player in this state, I recall the anxiety over hoping that your school would be one of the few selected for the next year’s honor of playing at Mike Johnson Park. I was never fortunate enough to get that invite but in my first year of coaching in 1998, our James Island Trojans got the nod and what an experience it was for our club, from the competition to all of the pageantry that surrounds the weekend. Since that time I have found my seat behind the dish as an evaluator. I can tell you that in the past nine years, like myself, most college coaches and many pro scouts gather the IP dates and plan much of their scouting schedule around these four days. My favorite IP story is that of former Gamecock recruiting coordinator Jim Toman, now the head coach at Liberty University. Back when he was an assistant at North Carolina State, he met his future bride whose brother was participating in the tournament. They now have three children and live in Lynchburg, VA. I believe that most baseball people hear the word Georgetown or shoot through the area and immediately think of this event. Each year Ms. Johnson and her staff put together a competitive and talent-filled group of teams. Each year they put on a great show and make it a place that quality high school programs …

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