Indelible Super 60 Memories

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

The 12th annual Super 60 Pro Showcase is set for Sunday, Feb. 2 at the Max-McCook Athletic & Exposition Center. The Super 60 is a real treat, certainly my favorite of the year. Last year’s event was incredible, providing further proof that, despite being cold-weather states, the talent is as strong as anywhere.

Last year, the pitchers stole the show. Of the 26 pitchers, 16 touched 90 mph or better, seven were 88-89 mph, and the remaining three were 85-87 mph. Not bad for the first week of February. RHP Zach Burdi (Downers Grove South HS, IL) and RHP Cory Wilder (Lima Shawnee HS, OH) headed the list, both topping at 94 mph.

While the pitchers were stellar – especially for early February – the position players showed plenty of athleticism. Sixteen of the 36 runners ran a 7.00 or better, led by 3B Spencer Gaa (Metamora HS, IL; 6.56 60) and OF Lex Kaplan (Ladue HS, MO; 6.63 60).

This year should be even better, as we have the top players coming from 11 states.

I still remember the very first Super 60 in 2003. It was actually kind of embarrassing. The hitting and pitching was done inside a gutted-out barn, and there was a steady hum from a heating generator pulsing throughout the day. For the defensive portion, the scouts and players had to drive five minutes away to a tiny gymnasium. We put a lot of holes in the gym walls. It was ugly.

I’m proud to say the Super 60 has come a long way. It has become one of the most heavily scouted preseason events in the Midwest for draft-eligible prospects and a select few juniors. Last year we had 75 pro scouts and agents in attendance.More importantly, we no longer need generators to keep us warm; the Max is a state-of-the-art 125,000 square foot open turf facility in McCook, IL. And yes, it’s heated.

Thinking back to all the great performances – and some of the not-so-great performances from players who became great performers – it is pretty interesting.

Never would I have thought that the 2004 group would potentially have three major-league players: Homewood-Flossmoor RHP John Ely (pitched with the Dodgers last year), St. Ignatius OF Joe Dunigan (he got probably broke at least four wood bats that day), and Glenbrook North OF/2B Jason Kipnis (he was just another face at the event), who made the All-Star team last year for the Indians.

In 2005, the senior class in Illinois was loaded. Ryan White, Rick Zagone, Danny Brewer, Kenny Smalley … the list of players went on and on. Funny thing was, the best prospect now was probably one of the worst pitchers of the day – Christian Friedrich. At the time, Friedrich was a gangly 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher from Loyola Academy HS, and was throwing his fastball at 81-83 mph. Not exactly pro material. Well, as it turned out, Friedrich blossomed into a guy, and became a first-round draft pick out of Eastern Kentucky University by the Rockies.

The single greatest performance was without question Justin O’Conner’s in 2009. At the time, O’Connor was a 6-foot, 180-pound junior from Cowan HS in Indiana. The PBR Indiana scouting director said he was special, but what he did that day was absolutely jaw-dropping. First, he was 96 mph from shortstop (backhand, plant, throw in the hole). Then he fired consistent 1.75 pop times. At the plate, his hands were electric. He capped off his day on the mound, sitting at 93 mph. Not a surprise O’Connor was a first-round pick the following year.

Joe Benson, in 2006, showed amazing combination of power and speed, along with arm strength (93 from OF) – basically, the tools that made him a second-round pick that June. Mike Foltynewicz, the 6-foot-5 RHP from Minooka HS, lit it up in 2010, when his fastball was sitting at a comfortable 92-93 mph with a power 77-78 mph breaking ball. Foltynewicz went on to become the 19th pick overall by the Astros in June.

Then there are some not-so-classic memories, such as a player putting on gold track shoes to run the 60. (Tip: if you want to wear gold shoes, make sure you are really, really fast).

Hopefully more indelible memories will be created this Sunday. More importantly, I hope all the players perform up their best abilities. Should again be a packed house.

Position players begin promptly at 9 a.m. Pitchers should get going around noon; done around 3 p.m. Enough time to get home for the Super Bowl. Who’s even playing in it, anyway?


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