Missing Out On 'Special Time' Of High School - Part Four


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

Follow @pbrnewengland

To view the commitment tracker, click here.
To view the uncommitted spotlights, click here.

To view each of the parts to the No Spring Baseball, click below:

Missing Out On "Special Time" Of High School - Part Four

PART FOUR: The following is the fourth of an in-depth five-part story looking at the cancellation of the 2020 high school baseball season in New England.

EXPOSURE LOST

An enormous amount of enjoyment is not the only thing high schoolers are missing out on with no spring baseball season in 2020. Many were anticipating showing off their skills to coaches and scouts.

One player that was hoping to get more notice is Tyler Mudd.

“It’s obviously frustrating in terms of being unable to go out and showcase my skills in front of college coaches, but all you can do is roll with it and hope it doesn’t carry into the summer,” the Deerfield Academy, Ma., uncommitted junior related. “I’m just trying to stay positive and keep working on getting better so when the time to play baseball again finally comes, I’ll be ready.”

That is the case as well for Henry Hersum at Prout School in Rhode Island. 

“As of now, all I can really say is I'm going to make sure this won't hurt my recruitment,” the fourth-rated uncommitted 2021 in New England explained. “I know I’m going to continue to put in the work to get better during this period. My goal is to be way better than I was prior to the start of the closings of public parks and gyms.

“I see this period of time as only an opportunity to continue to get better, and work toward becoming the best baseball player I can be. I think the coaches at The Clubhouse CT are doing a fantastic job with making sure this phase will not hurt our recruitment and opportunities in the future.”

One player making a major rise in the ratings is Yechiel Saint of Bridgton Academy in Maine. Now ranked sixth among New England juniors, Saint was looking forward to continuing to make a name for himself this spring.

“Not getting to play games and showcase my talent has slowed down the process that allows coaches to see me play,” noted New England’s number one uncommitted 2021..

Fortunately for players like Mudd, Hersum and Saint, there is another season for exposure if needed. The urgency to impress is now for seniors, however, Will McFadden remains positive with the situation dealt..

“I don’t think this has hurt my recruitment too much as an uncommitted senior because I’m still working out on my regular schedule and sending video to all the coaches I’ve been in contact with,” the top-rated uncommitted New England senior said. “My plan was to try to play wherever I decide to continue my academics and it looks like that will be happening.”

Making a college connection will happen in the eyes of Hersum, but a strong work ethic can certainly prove beneficial..

“No matter how good you are, someone is always trying to get better than you, and this phase will be a great indicator of who wants it more than others,” Hersum pointed out. “I always keep that mindset with everything I do. I know that if I really want something, I’m going to work for it, and get it. I know I’m going to make sure I come out of this a way better athlete than I was before at the very least.”

Packy Bradley-Cooney of Arlington Catholic, Ma., had high hopes heading into this season.

“I was relying a lot on the beginning of the year to find my fit,” the 16th-ranked uncommitted New England senior noted. “It’s been pretty disappointing ... it’s tough. I’ve put in a lot of work, I added velo and I was feeling good.”

It has turned into a whole new ballgame when it comes to recruiting according to Dennis Healy, the PBR Director of Scouting for Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

“I believe the inability to have a high school baseball season affects seniors who were not yet committed to a school,” explained Healy, a former head coach at Marist College and pitching coach at Wake Forest. “As for the junior class, the summer will be huge. We hope to go back to normal as the summer progresses and the juniors are going to need the exposure. Travel restrictions may limit the player going out of state as it currently stands, giving local colleges an advantage.”

Trevor Brown, PBR Connecticut and Rhode Island Scouting Director, agrees it will certainly be interesting how it all plays out. 

“The recruitment obviously makes it a bit of a challenge for the juniors. Lots of schools will have to make quick decisions on guys,” explained Brown, a former associate head coach at Fairfield and pitching coach at Fordham. “Players will have to perform real well out of the shute. Seniors hopefully by this point should have a school, but if not they may have to reclass or go the JC route.”

The MLB Draft becomes an issue as well.

“The lack of season doesn’t allow the high school and college players to showcase in their respective draft years, ultimately changing the whole dynamic of the draft.” Healy said.

A new strategy may unfold with this year’s draft, with the date and number of rounds still an uncertainty.

“With no spring season, scouts will have to go off of what they saw last summer and winter,” Brown said. “With the reduction of rounds, the lower-end players will not be drafted, some colleges will end up benefiting from it and those players that got drafted from the eighth to 15th rounds who sometimes sign, will end up going to school.”

As for college recruiting in the summer, everything is unsure at this point.

“The summer recruiting season still hinges on how much the government allows us to gather. That’s still up in the air as of now,” Healy said. “The unknown still holds us all at bay.”

In the end, fall baseball in 2020 may become more vital.

“The recruitment will just start later and last longer into the fall,” Brown pointed out. “The fall will become more valuable for everyone involved.” 

So much uncertainty for players brings concerns from coaches like Kevin Graber, even for those already committed..

“The reality is, they haven’t yet signed NCAA letters of intent and aren’t eligible to do so until next fall, so their college baseball commitments are verbal and therefore non-binding,” the Phillips Andover mentor pointed out. “And now the NCAA has granted college seniors another year of eligibility, and there will be a trickle-down effect with roster spots and scholarship money.

“A big part of what I’m up to is checking in with college coaches to make sure our guys’ verbal commitments are still on solid ground.”

AHEAD: Part five of this story will look at what players and coaches across the state have learned with this ordeal, and any final thoughts.