CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Playing the catcher position produces a rare breed of player. Catchers are those hard-nosed, block everything, not afraid to take one off the wrist type of players. They are known to do most of the dirty work for pitchers by blocking wild pitches, picking up on batter tendencies, and framing balls into strikes. Most of the time they are the smartest player on the field.
The first edition of the Sunshine Southeast Showcase at the Cartersville (Ga.) Baseball Complex this past weekend saw two of the top catchers in the 2015 class show off their talents. Michael Curry (No. 99 overall, University of Georgia commit) from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Ga., and Tristin English (No. 120 overall, Georgia Tech commit) out of Willamson, Ga. and Pike County High School were on display for scouts to watch and admire.
The two did not disappoint. Curry posted a 1.85 pop time, while throwing 83 mph down to second. English was equally as impressive with a 1.87 pop time, and he threw 85 mph down to second.
Curry believes that showcases like this one have been beneficial for him in sizing up his competition, as well as, gaining exposure and refining his skills.
“They’re really good. It’s actually fun to see all the talent out here and compare yourself," Curry said. "A lot of people stress about it. You just got to have fun with it.”
Some may question why Curry felt the need to come to the event this past weekend considering he has already been invited to the Perfect Game 2014 National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. that will take place just two weeks from now. Showing his love for baseball and passion to be the best, he was simply honest about his reasoning for attending the Sunshine Southeast Showcase.
“I’m out here to just prepare. Last year I was in the Junior Nationals, and I did well, but I just feel like I wasn’t prepared as much as I could have been. So, I’m just out, you know, seeing what I got.”
His hardworking approach to the game has molded him into a spectacular player and is seen on the field, but it is also the reason he has established a unique relationship with one of his former high school teammates.
Michael Gettys (No. 6, University of Georgia commit), a 2014 graduate and 2013 PG All-American, is one of the premiere high school players going into the 2014 MLB Draft. He was also a teammate of Curry’s at Gainesville High School this past year. Curry was drawn to Gettys immediately because they possess a similar approach to the game.
“I love to work every day, and I finally found Michael [who] is the same way. Every good baseball player [has] to have that grind every day. We hit a lot together. We helped each other out a lot. He’s helped me when I’m slumping. I’ve helped him. I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s learned a lot from me. He’s a great guy; fun to be around.”
Curry has also benefitted from watching Gettys go through the draft process this year. The way Gettys has handled being a top prospect in the upcoming draft is something that Curry has admired.
“Michael is an unbelievable guy. I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as he does in the weight room. [I’ve] never met a more humble guy. Just watching him handle it, I’ve learned a lot from it: how to handle it, how he’s handled it, how I could handle it. It’s a lot of fun just being there watching him every step of the way.”
English, on the other hand, believes that his growth and attitude as a player are a direct reflection of the way his summer team organization teaches the game. Having been associated with the Homeplate organization in now his eighth year, English raved about the organization as a whole and the benefits of having coaches who understand the recruiting process and know how to get their players exposure.
“They are great. I can talk forever about them. [I] went there when I was 10. Been there ever since. They have never done me any kind of wrong. When the right people were there, they put me out there to be seen. I can’t complain about anything. I love the coaches.”
English has built such a great relationship with the Homeplate coaches that his appreciation for baseball and his attitude on the field are partly due to his coaches.
He explained how they would “just [talk] to me about the game [and] how to go about the game. I used to get really upset whenever I did something wrong, and they were like, ‘this is baseball. You got a chance every single day to show what you got. Don’t get upset about one play.’”
This mindset has driven him to play the game the way it should be played. He has also developed a great deal of confidence in his play since he stopped playing football sophomore year to focus strictly on baseball. This confidence has lead him to not feel the need to try to mimic his play after anyone else.
“I just do me. I don’t watch much pro baseball; more college if anything. I just go out there and try to do my best.”
Both Curry and English have already committed to play college baseball, staying in-state to play at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech respectively.
Curry’s recruiting process was slightly different than most kids. After his sophomore year of high school, he moved from North Carolina to Gainesville, Ga. This move gave the University of Georgia even more incentive to go after him because he was now an in-state guy.
“They saw me play last summer, but you know, I was an out of state kid in North Carolina. They had a lot of interest in me. But, then they heard I moved into Gainesville, Georgia to play, and that’s when they were like, ‘hey you’re in-state and all that good stuff,’ and that’s when they really started to stay in contact with me.”
“They finally got me on campus, and I just sat down with Coach Strickland. I fell in love with the coaches. It’s all about the coaches. They were great.”
English’s commitment to Georgia Tech may be the epitome of the phrase ‘everybody deserves a second chance.’ Coming from a small town with a population of only 297 people, the big city lights of Atlanta did not seem very appealing to him at first. But, after a second visit, he decided Georgia Tech was the place he wanted to be at.
“They watched me pitch one time, and the next week I had a visit up there. I was really questioning where to go because I didn’t really like the city. My second visit was awesome. It really made up for it.”
“I had it narrowed down to Georgia Tech and Clemson. And I really liked Georgia Tech’s coaching staff. They made me feel at home there.”
These two are sure to be seeing a lot more of each other in the years to come whenever Georgia and Georgia Tech square off in the baseball edition of ‘Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.’ That is, of course, if they do not get picked up in the 2015 MLB Draft. For now, though, they are both eager to continue to improve to prepare themselves for the next level.