By: Nick Nickles – July 29, 2009
After heavy showers covered much of the Upstate, the American Legion State Tourney kicked off at historic Duncan Park on Wednesday and Diamond Prospects was there. The opening day was full of offense, we will briefly recap the action and provide prospect info for our viewers:
American Legion State Tournament
Game 1 – Conway 14 West Columbia 12
Conway was led by a huge offensive effort from John Gump’s 4-for-5 day with 2 homers and 5 RBI. Tripp Faulk (left) contributed a homerun and 2 RBI in the winning effort for Conway. It was a one-sided game until late in the contest when West Columbia rallied for 6 runs in the 9th before falling short of a miraculous comeback. Todd Joyner collected 6 RBI on 5 hits for West Columbia.
WP: Jarrott Hooks LP: Jeremy Brazzell SV: Josh Knab HR: John Gump (2), Tripp Faulk
Game 2 – Irmo 11 Sumter 3
Chad Balderman paced Irmo going 4-for-4 with a homerun and Will Keel came off the bench to go 2-for-2 in a total team effort to rout the Sumter P-15’s. Cameron Baker collected the win and held Sumter in check until the Irmo bats broke open a 2-1 game scoring 5 runs in the 5th inning. Bruce Caldwell and Jeremy Buckner (right) had multi-hit days for the P-15’s in the loss. The P-15’s are the defending champions of last year’s tournament.
WP: Cameron Baker LP: Jordan Montgomery HR: Chad Balderman
Game 3 – Gaffney 7 Georgetown 4
Gaffney kept the pressure on Georgetown in the quickest game of the day forcing bad decisions and errors throughout the game. Bryan Parsons and Michael Hughey each collected 2 RBI for Gaffney while Jason Biershenk had a great outing on the mound gathering the win. Bubba Wright collected the save in the closest contest of Day 1. Zach Hagaman and Kyle Ward each had multi-hit games for Georgetown in the losing effort.
WP: Jason Biershenk LP: Aaron Bishop SV: Bubba Wright
Game 4 – Florence 5 Spartanburg 1
The host club Spartanburg held a 1-0 lead early before giving way to a powerful, and more experienced, Florence team. The 4th inning turned sloppy for the home team as an array of errors and mental mistakes clogged the bases during the inning. Spencer Jordan, Tyler Boyd and Gerald Kennedy each contributed RBIs in the winning effort. Jordan was also lights out on the bump tossing a 9-inning complete game striking out 10 and allowing one run on a squeeze bunt in the third inning. Florence is considered to be the strong favorite in the tournament. Micheal Sobeski had 3 hits, a game high for Spartanburg.
WP: Spencer Jordan LP: Ryan Traylor
Prospect Info: Conway
John Gump- Erskine/USC Sumter, Carolina Forest HS ’08, 1B: Gump (right) did a solid job of showcasing himself as the most dangerous hitter in the tournament hitting 2 bombs and hitting another ball off the wall on the way to a 4-hit day. Gump, who is LISTED on the roster at 6-5/215, showed an advanced approach at the plate. He had a routine that he repeated in the box and looked very comfortable during his at-bats. He generated a lot of power at the point of contact, and both homeruns when struck, left no doubt in the mind of the spectator that they were gone. If you saw him today, you couldn’t leave unimpressed. He’s going to hit some homeruns.
Tripp Faulk- Senior, Wingate signee, North Myrtle Beach HS ’09, OF: Faulk (left) is a solid player that will head to Wingate in the fall to play college baseball. He showed some pop turning on a fastball in a favorable count putting some back spin on the baseball that allowed it to carry over the left field wall. Faulk is going to be a steady player that won’t make a lot of mistakes and could develop into a quite productive player for Wingate.
Prospect Info: West Columbia
Todd Joyner- Senior, Florence-Darlington Tech signee, White Knoll HS ’09, OF: Joyner (right) put together a 5 hit day for West Columbia while driving in 6 runs. The left-handed hitting outfielder utilized a hard contact approach while using the whole field. Joyner did a good job of situational hitting and looks to be a good sign for Florence Darlington.
Prospect Info: Irmo/Chapin
Chad Balderman- Senior, Limestone signee, Dutch Fork HS ’09, OF/RHP: Balderman (left) smoked all 4 baseballs in his 4-for-4 outing. Listed at 5-10/165, he showed some juice can be generated from his small frame. Balderman is a loose body in the box with a good bit of movement before he loads, but he stays back and throws his hands thru the ball nicely from the load. It worked today. He even belted a homerun into the trees. Limestone has to be thrilled with the potential of this sign as Balderman also has been in the upper-80’s on the mound.
D.J. Roberts- Junior, Chapin HS, C: Roberts has some potential at the plate. He hit the baseball hard 3-times in this viewing while hitting in middle of the order. Roberts is a "follow" type guy thru the fall for some smaller schools looking for a potential sleeper catcher.
Kaden Watson- Freshman, SMC, Irmo HS 08′, SS/2B: Watson (left), a year groomed at SMC, clearly looked the part in many aspects from his high school counterparts. He had a clear approach at the plate and executed his objectives in situational hitting opportunities. Though not a shortstop by trade, he was the most productive shortstop in the tournament yesterday. Watson simply made all his plays and didn’t make any mistakes to hurt the team. He’s also improved his actions and arm strength over the past year. Watson has a chance to be a valuable piece to SMC’s infield in 2010. He ran the bases well, and showed good instincts throughout the game in various situations. He was clearly playing on another level than the prep players.
Prospect Info: Sumter
Bruce Caldwell- Sophomore, Sumter HS ’11, SS: Caldwell (right) has some ability. The bat-speed is present, ball comes off the bat well, and he’s a definite threat in the lineup. Caldwell can hit a little bit and has some tools to be a good player down the road. Caldwell is the younger brother of Allen Caldwell who now plays in the Kansas City Royals organization after a "story book" career at SMC.
Jeremy Buckner- Sophomore, Sumter HS ’11, INF: Buckner is a long and lean body type that swings it from the left side. He has some athletic ability and a sweet swing from the left side. He barreled the baseball on this day and looks to be another promising player from Sumter. After one viewing, Buckner definitely needs to be mentioned with the better players in what is turning out to be a loaded 2011 class, especially among position players.
Jordan Montgomery- Sophomore, Sumter HS ’11, LHP: The 6-3/190 LHP took the loss but there is still a lot to like about Montgomery. He pitched in the low-80’s topping out at 83. He threw his curveball for a strike, and in time Montgomery has a chance to be a good one. Montgomery should be on the radars as he could be a big kid in the upper-80’s from the left side by next year.
Prospect Info: Gaffney
Jason Biershenk- Senior, Broome HS, ’09 RHP: Biershank is a little grinder out there! He has a bulldog approach that fills up the zone. He can pitch a little bit. He pitched in the low-80’s and turned over a solid breaking ball in the high-60’s. He spotted up a lot of fastballs and kept the counts in his favor. Biershenk controlled the game for 5 innings and it was fun to watch the 5’9" pitcher compete his rear off in the winning effort!
Michael Hughey- Senior, Limestone signee, Gaffney HS ’09, SS: Hughey’s defense stands out. His hands work well and he plays a good shortstop. He’s sure-handed and is one of the more underrated defenders in his class. Hughey looks to be a solid sign for Limestone.
Bryan Parsons- Freshman, USC Salkehatchie, Broome HS ’08, C: Parsons can swing it. Schools looking for an offensive JUCO catcher should take a look at Parsons. He was on everything today and smoked baseballs in the gap. This kid will be a good addition to a 4-year school.
Prospect Info: Georgetown
Aaron Bishop- Junior, Citadel commit, Waccamaw HS ’10, SS/RHP: Bishop (right) is a sleeper that has a chance to be very good player for The Citadel. He’s a long and lean athletic shortstop that swings it from the left-side. His swing has some deceptive pop, and he will hit a few homeruns down the road. The upside is good and Bishop may be the most underrated 2010 prospect in South Carolina.
Zach Hagaman- Junior, Waccamaw HS ’10, OF/LHP: Another player from Waccamaw that could be considered a sleeper guy. Hagaman swings it from the left-side and is slightly similar to a Tyler Jackson (Robert E. Lee ’09/SMC signee) of a year ago. Hagaman has a good left-handed swing that generates some pop. He smoked two baseballs today and is worth most schools to take a peek at over the next season.
Prospect Info: Florence
Spencer Jordan- Freshman, Florence-Darlington Tech, South Florence HS ’08, RHP: Jordan was the best arm to throw on the opening day of the State Legion Tournament. He was 86-88 and worked mainly with the fastball that the Spartanburg hitters couldn’t keep up with. Jordan’s arm didn’t tire at all for the duration of the outing and his arm will get plenty of looks this coming season by 4-year schools at Flo-Dar.
Prospect Info: Spartanburg
Dominique Aiken- Junior, Spartanburg HS ’10, OF: An athletic kid listed at 5-11/160 showed some speed and ability to cover some ground in the OF. He was involved in several close plays at first and displayed a fair amount of bat-speed. Aiken is a guy that moved around well on the baseball field, and is a guy that we will monitor in the future.
Michael Sobeski- Junior, Dorman HS ’10, OF/1B: The rising senior from Dorman had a perfect 3-for-3 night against a solid arm in Spencer Jordan. Sobeski listed at 6-3/175 swung the bat nicely tonight and made a good impression tonight in my first notable viewing.