7 Bartow players showcase skills at Top 100
by Jason Greenberg
Jun 10, 2014 | 1998 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There were 64 players selected from the state of Georgia in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft last week, demonstrating the vast talent the state has to offer in the sport.

Another demonstration of that talent is the Georgia Dugout Club Top 100 showcase, which held one of its 12 regional camps Tuesday at Cass High.

One hundred players will be selected out of the 12 camps for one statewide showcase to be held on June 28 in Atlanta. Whether a player receives an invitation to the Top 100 or not, each player will receive an evaluation from a college and pro scout they may then send to colleges they are interested in attending.

Georgia Highlands head coach Mike Marra was the college coach evaluating talent Tuesday while Jemel Spearman, area scout for the Oakland Athletics, was the pro scout. Spearman will be one of several pro scouts that ultimately assembles the six rosters that will compete in Atlanta.

“My job is to evaluate players and give my input, whatever value that it has. Infielders, I’m evaluating their feet, their glove actions. Outfielders, I’m evaluating how they play through the ball. Hitters, power potential. Pitchers, mechanics and things of that nature,” Spearman said. “They have a number system. It’s a pretty neat formula they have, so I let the kid know what he has to work on and what he’s doing well.

“I’ve seen a couple [of good players], actually. There’s a couple I’ve got my eye on.”

Seven Bartow County players came out to showcase their skills, including Sean McDermott and Lane Griffith from Adairsville, Lane Wilson from Cartersville and Kyle Lannom, Chris Hill, Thomas Brown and Sierrah Gani from Cass.

“I personally thought Lane Wilson did a nice job on the infield. I thought Chris Hill did a very nice job. He threw the ball very well. He changes speeds between his fastball and his changeup, so he’s a kid who we’ll definitely have an interest in,” Marra said. “There were some other guys who we like. For my purposes, there’s probably six or seven guys that I really like. For the most part, these kids were all in our area, so we saw a lot in terms of upside in our region. There’s definitely kids that we think can help us in the future.”

Not every player who was at Cass Tuesday will make the Top 100, but Cass head coach Adam Williams believes that all his players can benefit from the showcase.

“The deal is, you want to put yourself on the radar so people can follow up with you and see how you do against top competition. They get seen at the Top 100 and they get followed up with during the summer,” Williams said. “I’ll encourage all my guys to do this. I think our only two seniors, Chris Hill did a good job and Kyle Lannom showed he could compete. The other two kids who were there from Cass were upcoming sophomores and I think their mentality going in was they wanted to see where they measured up and make sure, when they’re seniors, they can get in the Top 100.”

Even if players are not selected to the tournament in Atlanta, Marra, who will be coaching a team at the tournament, says they can still be college prospects.

“When you look at this Top 100, it’s the whole state of Georgia. It’s very competitive. They have some big numbers in more of the metro areas and I have no idea what they’re looking for,” Marra said. “All we do is grade these guys out — 1, 2 and 3. One is no doubt, two is question mark, three is they got no shot. The pro scouts put the teams together. We offer our opinions, rate these guys. I was rating arm strength, arm accuracy, and when they hit, I’m evaluating the load of the swing. All I’m doing with the pitching is recording [velocity]. At the end, we all get together and we make an assessment.”

Williams believes submarine-style pitcher Hill has a chance to make the Top 100.

“I thought Chris Hill had a really good showing and I know one of the coaches there really liked him,” Williams said. “I think with what Chris does, he can be in the Top 100 of Georgia. They need someone who can legitimately get outs inning after inning and that’s what Chris does.”

Also impressing was Adairsville rising junior catcher Griffith, who threw a would-be base stealer out at second base during the showcase, something he did frequently for the Tigers this season.

“Lane Griffith has got a bright future ahead of him,” Marra said. “He’s a good catcher. He’s got some good tools. He’s a kid who we’re definitely going to follow.”

“I just want to show off some skills, see if I can get looked at a little bit,” Griffith said of attending the camp. “I definitely want to got to the next level, but wherever I get offers. I want to show off my arm strength, just any skills I can really.”

Adairsville first baseman McDermott also made an impression on Marra.

“[McDermott] is a big kid,” Marra said. “He’s got very quick hands. Obviously, he has size and his hands are very good, so he is a kid that projects well.”

Meanwhile, Cass’ Lannom has a specific goal in mind by attending the Top 100 showcase.

“I just want to see if I got what it takes. I’m looking to see if I can get up to the next level,” Lannom said. “My college goal is to go to [Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College]. I’m going to major in agriculture. For my senior year, I’m really hoping to get an A, B average so I can get up to that level.”

The lone female participant in the event was Cass’ Gani, who plays baseball and softball for the Lady Colonels and hit a few line drives to center field during batting practice.

“Don’t let her gender fool you. She’s tough as nails and she competes. She’s not afraid, not at all,” Williams said. “I have a lot of respect for her. She’ll tell you she’s a baseball player who plays softball. I wish all our kids could be like that. She’s definitely a gamer and she loves it.”

“If I can get anything, I will,” Gani said of playing college baseball. “The main plan is to at least get a softball scholarship. This is my homefield and it’s a showcase so I just wanted to show off what I can do. I’ve been playing baseball since I was 3 [years old]. It’s a big dream.”