FORT MYERS, Fla. – This is the way these things are supposed to work.
Joe Powell is a 5-foot-10, 195-pound right-handed pitcher and third baseman in the class of 2012 who rolled into the Perfect Game World Open Uncommitted Showcase Jan. 7-8 at Terry Park unknown, unheralded and, basically, unloved.
Now, less than a week removed from an eye-catching performance at the showcase, Powell has several top NCAA Division I programs interested in him, including a couple near his Dallas, Texas, home.
“Before I even went to Perfect Game, I’d never even been talked to by anybody,” Powell said in a telephone conversation with PG on Thursday (Jan. 12). “Once I went to the (World Open Uncommitted) … in the last three or four days I’ve been getting notes from all these Big 12 and other Division I schools. Just in the last four days I’ve been contacted by five or six different schools and they want me to come for a visit. So it was definitely a worthwhile experience.”
Without naming any particular university, Powell said the schools that seem most interested in him are Big 12 schools that “aren’t too far of a drive from Dallas, thankfully.”
That would seem to trim the list to Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech, unless Powell had forgotten that Texas A&M moves to the Southeastern Conference beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
“I’m not really looking to commit any time soon,” Powell said. “I definitely want to go and see all these schools before I even think about committing or even entertaining any offers whatsoever. I want to be able to make a clear and well-informed decision and also talk it over with my parents to see where I end up in college.”
Powell’s performance at the PG World Open Uncommitted Showcase was a record-breaker. His 90 mph fastball and 90 mph infield velocity were both event records, and his 92 mph outfield velo was just short of the record-setting 93 mph throw posted by Joshua Almonte (2012, Corona, N.Y.) the same day.
The three innings Powell pitched was the performance that most impressed the scouts and Perfect Game President Jerry Ford. In a detailed report posted here, Ford wrote that Powell “attacks the plate!” and noted that “Perhaps the best pitch Powell displayed was his changeup. It was a very deceptive, late-dropping pitch that has to be one of the top changeups I’ve seen all year.”
After PG scouts ranked Powell the No. 1 prospect at the event, Ford wrote, “This kid can be a starting pitcher at any college in the country right away and he is uncommitted. In hindsight, Joe Powell should have been in the World Showcase and he would have ranked as one of the top prospects there.”
“I knew if worked hard … I might have a chance to break (some) of the records that were previously set at the World Open Showcase,” Powell said of his performance. “I sat down and talked with my dad (Gary R. Powell) and I told him this might be a worthwhile experience.”
This was the first Perfect Game event Powell had attended, but he did his homework before diving in.
“Before I took off to go to Fort Myers, I looked up a little bit about the history of Perfect Game and some of the people who have been involved with Perfect Game,” he said. “I looked and saw that something like 80 percent of the guys that get drafted had gone to Perfect Game showcases and that’s a pretty impressive statistic.”
Every prospect that attends a Perfect Game showcase – especially, perhaps, an uncommitted showcase – accepts the invitation with different sets of expectations. The PG World Open Uncommitted Showcase was held during a “quiet period” on the NCAA Division I recruiting schedule, which means college coaches and recruiters aren’t allowed to watch the prospects perform in person. Powell’s mindset reflected that fact.
“Obviously going in, I had pretty low expectations because I knew colleges weren’t going to be able to come out and see me; I knew only the pro scouts would be there and I was thinking no pro scouts would really want anything to do with me right now,” he said. “I still thought it would be good exposure because there will be things going up on the (Perfect Game) website, but I had no expectations because I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
“Once I got out there, once I got to meet some of the guys on my team (PG Steel) and once things got going, I guess I thought it was well worth the expense.”
Nerves weren’t an issue. Powell plays on a big stage at Jesuit College Prep in Dallas, and last year’s JCP team featured Pittsburgh Pirates second-round draft pick Josh Bell. Powell was undefeated on the mound his junior season.
“I like the idea that all the eyes are me, I kind of like the idea that the game’s on my shoulders and I kind of like the idea that everybody’s looking and critiquing and criticizing every little move that I make,” he said. “I went out there and I thought, ‘All right, this is my one shot, this is definitely going to be when it counts and this might be my last chance to really get something out of this before I head off to college.
“I just took my one shot and I made it count and I went out there, and between every single pitch I psyched myself up and told myself that I’m here for a reason and I got the invite for a reason. Now it’s time to show why they brought me down here.”
Powell credited Ford and other Perfect Game staff members for getting the word out to college coaches about his standout performance.
“They’re the ones who really got the ball rolling,” he said.