By: Austin Alexander - November 4-5, 2017
On Saturday and Sunday, spring temperatures greeted us at River Bluff High School and their envious facilities to help us execute Diamond Prospects' 12th Annual Fall Showcase. A full house of participants in the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes were on hand to work out in front of 25+ evaluators. A solid mix of tunes rang out of the PA system as two sessions of players were paraded through 60's, a defensive workout, batting practice and closing with bullpens before the games opened on Saturday afternoon.
The theme of this weekend, after being awe-struck at the River Bluff campus for the umpteenth time, was of all of the names unknown to us and most scouts when we all arrived on Day 1. A heavy dose of freshman, sophomores and juniors forced themselves into claiming "follow" status, some with upside that had us very excited...including a rising star previously unknown to us as Pelion junior Dylan Williamson (left) led off the bullpen session shooting 88-90 MPH bullets! So many more punched their ticket to the Palmetto Games which is still nine months away. (R-Dorman 2021 TJ White)
Winner - Storm Toman: If you consider yourself a baseball person for any length of time in the Carolina's and Virginia, for that matter, nationwide...you know the name Jim Toman and significance of what he brings to the table in the recruiting world plus his prominence in the game. If you were at River Bluff this weekend, you saw him there. If a pitch was thrown, he saw it. And if your son can really play, he knows it. I am very fortunate to have gotten to know 'the guru' over the years and respect him greatly, most folks in the baseball profession do. From his 19 years with Ray Tanner between NC State and South Carolina to his eight campaigns as the skipper at Liberty University, 'the big guy' (his coined phrase, not mine) has seen more than his share of baseball. Personally, I have had the privilege to watch hundreds of games with Coach Toman over the years and learned a ton about evaluation and recruiting in general. Advice to any young coach, Coach Toman is a tireless worker and when you see him at games, shut up and listen to some sage wisdom. Coach Toman, thank you for your attendance at DP events, it adds so much credibility to what we are doing. The Scouting Award for the 2017 Fall Showcase is a slam dunk this time to a repeat winner, C of C's Jim Toman.
AA's Tip of the Cap: If you have ever attended a Diamond Prospects event you may have noticed two very hard-working field warriors. We often get much-appreciated complements from coaches and scouts (occasionally parents) with the way our operation is run, two names are a huge reason why. Tony Osterman (right, cancer survivor) and Will Cheatham are veterans of over 50 DP showcases and handle all of the X's/O's during the workout stage and when games begin. I marvel at how every screen, bucket and mat or cage is always in the right spot at the right time, uncanny. I know that when folks show up and see a sea of kids on the field, the idea that we cannot execute the agenda in 2 hours in 45 minutes probably seems laughable. Yet, barring weather, these two guys help us hit the mark every single time. On Saturday, Session 1 ended 2 minutes early, Session 2 finished 5 minutes early. And with showers on the evening of Day 1, Sunday still ended 2 minutes early. Not too shabby. An aside, the positive dugout and field presence these comrades provide is not something that any player signs up for but does leave with. The last game of this showcase is the best example. No scoreboard, we don't record outs...it's a showcase. Somehow these guys made it a blast rallying the troops to make an exhibition competitive! As always, well-done T.O. and Cheat. Notables: Thane Maness' BP and Dale Nelson's fungos are premium, huge time savers as well! Tip of the cap from me to every DP staff member, so blessed to be insulated with so many winners.
Farewell Fox! For the past four years our DP staff found it humorus to play the once-popular tune What does the fox say as I would attempt to address the players at the conclusion of each game, which made it very difficult to communicate as you can imagine. The song was retired this fall, thankfully and hopefully a little post-game wisdom was passed along...and received!
DP High Five: River Bluff was a gracious host providing their amazing facility that has set the bar for other prep digs while creating envy from many of the college coaches that attended. The place could not have been a more accommodating site, Coach Mark Bonnette and his support staff were always first-class before, during and after the event; we sincerely thank them for opening their gates to DP for, hopefully, the tenth of many more events to come!