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College : : Recruiting
Texas Trip Day 3: An Important Lesson
Published: Friday, March 19, 2010

A lesson has been reinforced the last few days that I know very well, but that many coaches, advisors and parents should take closely to heart.

It is sometimes virtually impossible for the decision makers (i.e. the cross checkers and scouting directors) in the scouting community to make good and accurate evaluations on a high school player during the spring. They have to depend in large part on what they’ve seen the previous summer and fall.

Let me write that again just for emphasis:

It is sometimes virtually impossible for the decision makers (i.e. the cross checkers and scouting directors) in the scouting community to make good and accurate evaluations on a high school player during the spring. They have to depend in large part on what they’ve seen the previous summer and fall.

You might recall that on Wednesday I saw three of the top high school prospects in the state of Texas play. One faced a pitcher throwing in the low 70’s in a quick run-rule game. The other two pitchers both allowed 11 runs.

Thursday I had the opportunity to see Cypress Woods HS 1B/LHP Jared Lakind play in an evening game against Langham Creek HS in the western suburbs of Houston. Lakind is a 6-2, 200-pound left handed hitting Aflac All-American who was outstanding at both the Perfect Game National Showcase and the Area Code Games in addition to his Aflac status. He also played for the Texas Scout Team in Jupiter.

There were probably a half-dozen cross checkers there to see Lakind as well, along with a couple of area scouts.

The previous day Lakind had thrown a complete game no-hitter against a 12-1 team (Cy-Falls HS), touching 91 mph on his fastball, along with hitting the ball hard twice. We’ve never considered Lakind a top-level pitching prospect before as he’s been mid-80’s when we’ve seen him, but we have heard of this type of velocity, which is obviously notable from the left side. Lakind’s father admitted that his son still might be buzzing a bit from that game, although he definitely thinks of himself as a secondary pitcher.
Lakind was facing a left handed pitcher who looked like he threw in the 82-84 mph range and could spin the ball fairly well. Certainly a good test.

Lakind walked the first time on four pitches. The second trip he went into vapor lock at the plate and struck out looking (guessing?) without taking the bat off his shoulder. The third time up he fouled off a number of pitches before striking out on a curveball off the plate. The fourth time up, Lakind finally squared up a ball hard to the second baseman.

If you didn’t have a full set of scouting impressions on Lakind before the game yesterday you would have left the ballpark with nothing from which to write a report. He wasn’t challenged in the field, couldn’t have thrown well due to pitching the day before, didn’t have the opportunity to run and had a mediocre day at the plate, twice not getting the bat off his shoulder.

That is why (actually, just one of many reasons why), parents, your son needs to play at the highest level of events he can during the summer and fall. Any high school, college or summer coach or any advisor/agent who tells you that the scouts will be able to evaluate him during the spring and that he should just hang around home and play Legion ball during the summer is playing Russian Roulette with his chances of being evaluated by professional scouts.

NOTES

– I’ve been told that the pitchers and catchers call their own games at College Park HS and that John Simms and his catcher did so Wednesday night against The Woodlands. I’d like to apologize to Coach Washburn at College Park and at the same time congratulate him on teaching his kids this responsibility; he’s one of probably 5 percent of coaches at this level nationally who do that.

I also think Simms, who I’m told is a very smart young man, will probably learn about pitch selection from that game. It’s a lot easier to learn from one’s struggles, like allowing 11 runs, than from one’s successes.

– I’ve had a number of suggestions e-mailed to me by parents and coaches about players I might want to see while down here. I really appreciate the time and effort to contact me about these young men, I wish I could stay down here longer, trust me!

– One player I wish I could have seen but won’t is LHP Mitchell Taylor at Spring HS, which is only a couple of miles from where I watched the College Park/The Woodlands matchup. Taylor is a 6-1, 175-pound southpaw who was up to 88 mph last summer pitching for the Houston Heat at the WWBA 17U National Championships. He’s bumped his velo up to 91-92 mph at times, according to scouts here, and has an outstanding curveball. Look for him to be moving up the PG rankings and the draft charts.

– There are three senior high school prospects down in this area, two of which I’ve seen and one of which I’ve been hearing about all week from scouts, who are all very solid Division I prospects but who collectively, I’m told, have exactly zero college offers right now. I don’t know what the exact story is on each young man, but it’s both confusing to me and to the scouts and local baseball people I’m talking to. If you are a college coach and want more information on these three (see below), let me know and I’ll get you their contact information.

OF/RHP Landon Appling, El Campo HS: Plus runner, also stars in football and track, has touched low 90’s from the mound, small live-bodied athlete.

OF Michael Aquino, College Park HS: Hit home runs off Jameson Taillon and Bryan Brickhouse the other night, also upper 80’s off the mound, quality hitter and athlete.

RHP Matt Sims
, Cypress Woods HS: Slender and projectable 6-2, 175-pound right hander with a quick, loose arm. FB was 86-90 mph with a good hard spinning curveball.
Friday’s Schedule: Plenty of fishing in the morning and early afternoon (it’s another Chamber of Commerce Day here in Texas, supposed to get 3” of snow back in Omaha). Then going to watch Brenham HS batting practice and move down the road to watch Texas A&M and Texas Tech square off in College Station.