How Fearless are You?

By: Austin Alexander – September 7, 2017 Sometimes in life we try to paint a picture or describe what we see. This image landed in my inbox on Tuesday and I felt like it shared a myriad of things. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Sometimes you are on the mound with bases loaded and no outs, perhaps 0-2 count facing a nasty slider, maybe down six staring at the final out…Or maybe it’s in your personal life, any chance this is what your future looks like? What is your life’s lion? Where does your plan lie when the chips are down?

Farewell to a Friend

By: Austin Alexander – July 29, 2017 It is with a very heavy heart that I write this morning, still less than 24 hours after my good friend and colleague Jeff Young passed away. I debated whether to run something on a public forum, but after spending much of the night watching the ceiling fan circle above me, quite a few words came to mind and chose to share them with so many of you whose lives were touched by “JY”. Jackie Robinson once famously said, “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.” Safe to say that if you knew JY, he probably impacted your life in some capacity, he did mine. When a person passes, often it is asked, what his or her legacy was? Perhaps folks try to sum up a life in a sentence or with a few words? I will fail here I know, but am going to give it the old college try: The dude was a devoted husband and father, always has been. A great baseball man whose family meant the world to him. A few words? Loyal… true friend… reliable… passionate… sincere… genuine… tireless worker… missed already… I have nearly 20 years of history with JY dating back to a winter baseball camp at USC in 1998 when we were both young college coaches. We hit it off instantly and remained close no matter our proximity or where baseball jobs took us. But when another close friend of mine Monte Lee called me at 2:42 yesterday afternoon with the somber news, initial shock became eventual grieving for my good friend and his beautiful family. So many times when a life is taken far too early, those in their closest circle have regrets. Not me, not with JY. The last time I saw him was six weeks ago, we hugged and told each other “love you man”… The last time I talked to him was earlier this week as we finalized his plans to work at the Palmetto Games, my words were, “Cannot wait to see you brother, appreciate you.” To which his response was, “Yep, appreciate you too.” Little did I know that would be our last exchange but I have resolve in knowing that our last encounters were like the 1000’s before. When news of this tragedy swept through the baseball landscape, it became apparent that Jeff Young touched so many others too. A text chain yesterday with some of my DP comrades and other baseball friends prompted so many of us to tell one another how much we appreciated and love one another. Yes even baseball guys have hearts and feelings, just like everyone else. The bonds in the baseball/coaching community are stronger than any outsider could imagine. Well, my friend JY had a very big heart, a love for the game but a much larger love for those he knew. I will miss our chats about family and about life, will miss him as a large part of my adult life. When I have not been an emotional wreck, I have spent time in prayer for his favorite team: Laura, Natalie and Carly. I urge you to do the same as we remember our fallen friend and celebrate the life he shared with us. DP Note I: The picture above is of our DP staff following an event last year supporting one of our staff soldiers who was battling cancer. JY is pictured second from the left. DP Note II: From now on, the top hitter at each year’s Palmetto Games will be named the Jeff Young Heavy Hitter Award, one small way for us to honor his contribution to our sport and young men everywhere.  R.I.P. Jeff Young: November 15, 1967 – July 28, 2017

Our Journey: The 2017 Northwestern Trojans

By: John Gilreath – July 31, 2017 When you first step on that high school campus, you’ve got two things on your mind – academics and winning a state championship. Those should be the only two things that matter to a high school baseball player from the time they get into the junior varsity program all the way up until their senior year. Luckily, our 2017 varsity baseball team went the distance and captured our first baseball title in school history. As most high schools in the state do, we started prepping for our season in the fall with our long toss programs and band workouts to get ready. From the first day of those mini-practice sessions, we all had our mind focused on that state title. It would be mentioned multiple times on a daily basis and the thought of a championship stuck in our heads for every workout and team activity all year long. The team would go eat together, play disc golf or hang out at each other’s houses throughout the fall and pre-season and especially during the season as it strengthens our bond as teammates. After it came out that we were pre-season #1, Coach Walters and the rest of the coaching staff always would say, “You were only given that ranking but you haven’t earned anything yet. You must prove it.” We all remembered that for every rep in the weight room, every foul pole we ran, and every time we went to study for school knowing we wouldn’t get a chance to play if we didn’t succeed in the classroom. No matter what anybody tells you, you cannot have a winning team if you have no leadership or team chemistry. It is not possible. If you look at Clemson or South Carolina or any of the top programs in the country, they all have each other’s back and push each other. That’s what you have to do to be successful. So, when the first day of the season came, we knew that with the work we put in the weight room and in the classroom, and the relationships we had with each other, we had a good shot at this thing. We were blessed with depth offensively and on the mound this year; probably deeper than most programs and for that we were grateful. I had the opportunity to pitch alongside some of the best in the state like Rob Hughes, Cameron Reeves, and Wesley Sweatt but all 4 of us knew that without our defense behind us, the ground balls wouldn’t have been fielded and those fly balls wouldn’t have been caught. The pitching was the pre-season hype but the thing that should have gotten the most press was that our senior class was the most leadership-oriented, unselfish group of guys I’ve ever been around, and for that, we are also grateful. Will Gardiner would scream and yell at you if you were standing around, Brandon Ashley would run extra with guys when he didn’t have to. Stuff like that sets an example for not only me, but also the younger guys watching. Coach Walters threw batting practice and hit ground balls with an injured back and never complained once and honestly for me, that showed that you can either sit on your tail and do nothing or you can battle through the tough times no matter what and see results. Building off of that, our coaching staff worked tirelessly to get the best out of us not only on the field and in the weight room, but also in the classroom. They also had probably some of the best baseball strategy plans and baseball minds in the league. Without them, the playoffs and our season would have been a disaster. It seems like all of Rock Hill showed up and showed out for every game and especially in the State Championship Series and that was crucial for our success. We weren’t nervous going into the series, we were just ready to get out there and show the state what we could do on such a big stage. Hats off to River Bluff for such a great season. If you want to know, though, what it’s like running out to the mound in front of a few thousand in the championship game, it’s a World Series Game 7 type of feeling. The atmosphere was like no other I’ve ever experienced. Fans lined the foul lines, were in the outfield and there wasn’t a seat in the house which made it even better. In those types of games, the key to winning is to play it just like any other game. If you go out there and try and be something you’re not, you’re going to lose, plain and simple. If you go out there and play like the 25 other games you’ve played that season, you’ll be just fine. Another key is to ignore the hype and focus on the task at hand. Stay calm and never look at the scoreboard. We owe one back to the city of Rock Hill and couldn’t thank them enough for the support they’ve shown us this year. Also, a huge thanks to Trojan Nation, our administrations teachers and staff, and student body for all of the support they’ve shown us. We couldn’t have done it without you. Once again, hats off to River Bluff on such a tremendous run. About the Author: Northwestern 2018 grad and committed Gamecock LHP John Gilreath took the time for DP to jot down his candid thoughts on a wire-to-wire run for the 2017 Trojans. We thank the southpaw for giving a glimpse into the program that raised the trophy this spring and are the odds-on favorite to do it again in 2018.

MLB Draft Breakdown: 2017

By: Austin Alexander – June 12-14, 2017   In a year that professional scouts will admit there was far less draftable prep talent in South Carolina than recent years, only – young men managed to have their names called over the three-day event!   The more you peer into this year’s draft, the event itself took on a very different look due to drastic changes within the rules pertaining to signing players and by reducing the draft by ten rounds over past seasons, thus affecting who and how many in-state guys were selected.   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 4-7 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 -th 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 should 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 or advisor 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:   A few years ago, 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 July 7th (up from first day of class once upon a time) 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 Bryce Teodosio does not automatically vault that arm to prospect status. If a good high school pitcher beats Easley High School with Logan Chapman 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 Corey Stone, that does not guarentee that he will even play past high school. If a fast runner steals two bases off of Bo Taylor, 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 tens of thousands of miles riding through the countryside away from their families looking for the next Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout. 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 2017? Only time will tell. Below we have broken down the 2017 Draft: *Note: Players accounted for either played high school or college baseball in South Carolina this spring. Selected +Day 1 (1-2 Rd) +Day 2 (3-10 Rds) Day 3 (11-40 Rds) Total SC Players 2  5 29 36 College players 2 5 26  33 HS players 0  0  3   3 Pitchers 2  3 19 24  Catchers 0 0 2   2 Infielders 0  0  3 3 Outfielders 0  2  …

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MLB Draft Preview: 2017

Compiled By: DP Staff – June 12, 2017 The workouts have concluded, the notes have been made, scouting miles have been logged and final organizational meetings have been had… and now it’s finally draft time! The First Round begins Monday, June 12 on the MLB Network. As we mosey around South Carolina throughout the calendar, we are often asked to make predictions on the upcoming draft, who will be taken, which round will they go in, who is most signable, etc. We’ve asked a few questions of our own to some ‘bigwigs’ and threw in our two cents as well. But in the past few years it’s been a different animal altogether… Check out the drastically new draft rules from yesteryear: 2014 Draft / Slotted Signing Bonus 2017 Draft Tracker The entire process has always been a crapshoot, even for those making the final decisions so we aren’t going to take a stab at which round, but below is what we did come up with regards to who has a chance to be drafted this week. Admittedly, every single scout that we spoke with said we would learn alot from this draft to be a little more bold with our prognostication in future years. Our crystal ball comes with far less confidence than most years, with no sure thing, but here it is: -Palmetto State Players Receiving Pro Interest this Spring-  Name  High School  Position  Signed  DP’s $.02 *Logan Chapman  Easley  RHP  South Carolina  Probable *Bryar Johnson  Carolina Forest  RHP  Coastal Ca.  Probable Carmen Mlodzinski  Hilton Head  RHP  South Carolina  Probable Connor O’Rear  South Aiken  RHP  Clemson  Possible De’Ondre Smith  Ashley Ridge  RHP  Sptg Methodist  Possible *Corey Stone  Mid-Carolina  LHP  South Carolina  Possible Bryce Teodosio  Mauldin  OF  Clemson  Possible Key: Definite, Probable, Possible {chances to be drafted} -Others Receiving Pro Interest-  Name  High School  Position  Signed Douglas Angeli  Dorman  SS  UNC-Wilmington Ward Hacklen  Dutch Fork  OF  Sptg Methodist Austin Morgan  Easley  C  USC-Upstate Ja’Darius Munford  Lamar  OF  Flo-Dar Tech Jack Stamler  JL Mann  LHP  South Carolina Alex Stennett  Nation Ford  OF  Sptg Methodist Mason Streater  Boiling Springs  INF  South Carolina Bo Taylor  South Pointe  C/UTL  Coastal Carolina Cam Tringali  Cardinal Newman  RHP  South Carolina Houston Wright  Gaffney  1B/RHP  C of C *Selected in 2017 MLB Draft

Palmetto State Champions!

By: Austin Alexander – April 6, 2017 What a run our state is on! We are just one union in the Lower 48 and simply one of 50 overall in these United States of America. BUT when it comes to athletics, I’d have to say that the Carolina’s, specifically the Palmetto State, has had a stranglehold on some fairly big collegiate and professional endeavors recently! While a name or team may be omitted, let’s re-visit the past 12 months… Date  Event, Etc  Accomplishment  School/Player  Notes July 2016  NCAA Baseball National  Championship  Coastal Carolina  Roster littered with SC players, Andrew Beckwith (Blythewood) MVP, GK Young (Conway) hits game-winning HR, Alex Cunningham (Byrnes) records final outs October 2016  MLB  World Series  Chicago Cubs  Carl Edwards, Jr (Mid-Carolina) pitched in the final inning of Cubs first title since 1908 2016  Professional Golf  PGA  Dustin Johnson  #1 Player in the World, CCU grad, Irmo native Jan 2017  NCAA Football  National Championship  Clemson  SC native Hunter Renfrow (Socastee) catches game-winning TD April 2017 NCAA Men’s Hoops Final Four South Carolina First Tourney win since 1973… April 2017 NCAA Women’s Hoops National Championship South Carolina A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall) Tourney MVP As an advocate of our great state, graduate of two awesome schools and a person that pulls for our kids/coaches as much as anyone, tip-of-the-cap to each champion, what a year! And it is only April, who knows what SC-soil bred team or player will provide our state another ring, trophy or Green Jacket!

The State of DP Address – 2017

By: Austin Alexander – February 9, 2017 As Diamond Prospects’ embarks upon our 12th prep baseball year, and as the Holiday Season has now closed, a 2017 campaign awaits us! The purpose of this 3rd annual The State of DP Address is aimed to accomplish a handful of things, mostly to inform our loyal viewers and pass out a few kudos as well. DP came into inception a few moons ago, January 2006 to be exact! All the way back then, we burst onto the scene and coaches, players and parents everywhere were thankful…all of a sudden SC high school baseball was getting attention…noticed and scouting breakdown was being giving to on-field accomplishments away from the usual local publications. This is where it becomes personal. Awesome contacts and great friends helped DP vault into a new level! Most reading this now will never understand. Essentially there was a time when prep baseball coverage was minimal…there was a time that parental emails were thankful in that someone rolled through their facility… For what it is worth, many of our emails these days surround why we did not see a given team a half dozen times! Eleven spring seasons ago when we emerged, folks were so pleased to have us at their game and excited about this new DP thing… Players and most parents now have never known a time before DP, and while we have raised the expectation levels of folks, coaches and scouts remember a time before Diamond Prospects existed. Through the work of an awesome staff, God’s blessing of our goals and plenty of help along the way, it’s very satisfying from my view to know that we have positively affected the landscape of high school baseball and recruiting in this state. We firmly believe that baseball in our state has been advanced since 2006 through the work of so many people that helped us do our job! Our staff of very credible baseball people are deployed each spring, summer and fall to beat the bushes, hunt and fish for prospects. I remain so blessed and our state is so fortunate that we have been able to assemble such a formidable group of scouts to help push our great game of baseball forward. As the years have moved along, several new events were added through the great ideas of many different people. Our 11th Pro Day was a couple of weeks ago and quickly became a kick-off of the high school baseball season for players, but also the scores of pro scouts that flock to Columbia each January to get an early peak at the top prospects across South Carolina. In the previous ten Pro Day’s, over 130 participants have gone on to play professional baseball…which explains why all 30 MLB clubs are represented most winters, averaging more than 100 scouts the past four years! Pro Day has become a DP staff favorite over the years with all of the high rollers present to see a grouping of prospects that possess tools-galore. Added note, 66% of attendants have been drafted over the years. This year World Champions Leo Mazzone and DP alum Carl Edwards, Jr were speakers, a huge bonus for those in attendance! This January we finally caught up with the times and included video with our prospect info, to view it click here. The Palmetto Games is an event that has been the most identifyable that we host. It has become the all-star game in our state for the top underclassmen hailing from every corner of South Carolina. Ray Tanner was instrumental in getting this marquee weekend off the ground back in 2008 and we have never looked back. USC has been our gracious venue each summer for scouts and college coaches to lock in on 120 players, both committed and uncommitted, as premier prospects go toe-to-toe with the best-of-the-best that the Palmetto State has to offer. Our first South Atlantic Border Battle was in 2009 at The College of Charleston, what a decorated cast of talent graced the diamond that year and every year since! The Border Battle pits the cream of the crop from the junior an senior classes as our Sandlappers square-off each fall against the top guys from North Carolina, Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. The alumni list from this event is deep with household names in the baseball world from the various states as we have moved the site each year between various major colleges venues and pro stadiums. In 2012, Major League Baseball partnered us and our allies to suit the players up in MLB uniforms and to be coached by professional scouts and instructors. Pro baseball’s influence at the Border Battle really did help evolve a very good event into one of the best showcase weekends in the country. Our ninth DP Developmental Fall League was another hit in 2016 as 26 teams covered the Upstate and Greater Rock Hill Leagues! Plans include other regional leagues in 2017 to provide an affordable, competitive weekday opportunity to gain time on the field without burning out pitchers, also without taking away from those still playing travel ball on the weekends. The Fall League has also proven to be a weekday recruiting option for many colleges during the past eight seasons. Over the years, our various teams have been played at five minor league stadiums and on eleven different Division I campuses, in addition to dozens of high school fields. DP’s “open showcases” are our best avenue to give every player in our state a legit opportunity to be evaluated and play past high school. Let’s face it, not every player has an equal chance to move on; often because of geographical location, size of school, multiple sports…it’s a long list as to why kids can fall through the cracks. Our ‘open showcases’ are filled each session with guys who get their applications in as one of the first 150 and to receive their shot in front of decision-makers! There are so many …

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DP Q&A – A Life in Baseball: Travis Barbary

BarbaryTravis-16My name is Travis Barbary and I currently serve as the catching coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’m entering my 23rd year in the Dodger organization. I played briefly in the minor leagues with Dodgers and I have also served as a Minor League manager and coach. I also spent four years with the Major League club as a bullpen catcher. I graduated from Easley HS and went on to play collegiately at SMC and the University of Virginia.

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