Ohio's Top Talent Put to the Test in National Events

Ohio?s best put to test in national showcase

PBR?s top three rising Ohio seniors, and five of its top 20, had their talents on display this weekend at Perfect Game USA?s National Showcase. Led by top player Vandalia-Butler?s RHP Taylore Cherry, the quintet showed they deserve to be named side-by-side with the nation?s best.

As the first big event of the summer concludes, here is a look back at how the five top players fared in Fort Myers, Florida.

#1 Taylore Cherry RHP Vandalia-Butler HS

Cherry was the lone player of the Ohio contingent not on the Columbia Blue team. As a member of the Gray team, Cherry carried the banner for the Buckeye State solidifying himself as one of the country?s best and a potential first-rounder in next year?s MLB Draft.

The physically imposing 6?9 Cherry pitched two innings on Friday morning. As Cherry faced seven batters he struck out five, an infield single, and recorded a 6-3 putout. Of the 30 pitches thrown 22 were strikes as Cherry touched 94 MPH with his fastball while sitting 91-92. Cherry commanded both sides of the plate with his fastball and effectively used a near-80 MPH curve and mid-80s change.

Cherry left Fort Myers that night to return to his Midland Redskins team, but not before he impressed the scouts and prospectors on hand. Both Baseball America and Perfect Game stated Cherry was one of the Day 2 stars as he cemented his status as one of the best high school pitchers in the country. As his prospect status reaches new heights, Cherry says he feels good about his performance in Florida.

?I felt good all around,? Cherry said. ?I had my change-up working pretty good, my curve was a little iffy on the first two batters, but after that I got it honed down right where I wanted. I was placing my fastball really well; overall I?m pretty happy with my performance.?

While it?s an entirely different setting than toeing the rubber for his high school as Vandalia-Butler finished a game shy of the State Tournament, Cherry says such national events are no different.

?You have to go out there with the same approach,? Cherry said. ?I just go out there and throw strikes and when you do that and put them where you want to, a lot of good things happen.?

Though the mindset is the same, the reality is the circumstances are much different.

?It was difficult at first,? Cherry said speaking on the amount of scout and radar guns at his attention. ?Last year I would be very nervous about it, but you get used to it over time. You have to complete shut it out of your mind and just focus on the catcher.?

As Cherry did that, with his five-strikeout performance on the national stage, now the focus on him will be greater.

#2 Matt Smoral LHP Solon HS

Like his fellow North Carolina commit and Redskins teammate, Matt Smoral showed the stuff that makes him standout among many.

The 6?8 southpaw pitched on the showcase?s opening night getting the start for Columbia Blue. As Smoral threw a fastball that topped at 93, he struggled with the command of his off-speed in the first inning. In his second inning of work on the mound Ohio?s top left-handed pitcher found his feel and regained form.

As Smoral allowed a run off three hits in a shaky first inning, a 1-2-3 inning was put together to finish is outing in the second. Smoral who sat 91-92 in the first used only two fastballs, 89 and 91 in the second. Along with the three hits Smoral recorded two strikeouts. Two walks would have been on Smoral?s recorded but there were not base-on-balls or HBP free passes in the event.

#3 Tucker Linder RHP Tallmadge HS

Linder had the roughest outing of the big three, but he also faced the stiffest competition. As the 6?5 righty faced 10 batters, six were players who have committed to SEC schools including the #1, #8, and #12 players in the nation according to Perfect Game.

Linder allowed a double to the top player in the country, Florida-commit Lance McCullers, struck out Auburn-commit Addison Russell, and allowed a single to LSU-commit Joey Gallo. Linder sat 87-88 with his fastball topping out at 89, he allowed two runs off five hits with two strikeouts.

#6 Daniel McKinney RHP Bowling Green HS

The Michigan-commit was stellar in Friday?s game, putting together the best performance of Ohio?s three pitchers on the Columbia Blue team.

McKinney needed just 18 pitches to work through six batters in two innings of work.  In firing 15 strikes, McKinney topped at 89 while sitting 88-87. McKinney didn?t show much off-speed or breaking but didn?t need to as he recorded four groundouts with two strikeouts.

#18 Zach Ratcliff 1B/OF Columbus Academy

Ratcliff got off to a slow start before finishing the event with a bang. On Thursday Ratcliff went 0-for-2 an outing he duplicated Friday morning with a pair of strikeouts. Ratcliff unofficially was struck with three pitches in the first two games before he was finally able to strike back with a hit. On Saturday Ratcliff recorded a single and double in his two at-bats while scoring a run. The Central Ohio native left the event with Perfect Game writing he is an ?interesting hitter.?


The Perfect Game National Showcase is used as the final step in derterming the players for the Aflca All-American game which will be played this year in San Diego at Petco Park on August 14.

The next national event for Ohio players is this week in Cary, NC as USA Baseball hosts its Tournament of Stars and tryout process for its u18 USA National Team.

Participating in the week-long event will be Linder, Defiance RHP Anthony Kidston (Louisville Recruit), Ottawa-Glandorff catcher Casey Schroeder, and St. Edward middle-infielder Tommy Mirabelli.