Prep Baseball Report

Looking Back On 2021

Nathan Rode and PBR Staff

Looking Back On 2021Maybe it wasn’t totally normal--though that definition feels like a moving target anyway--but 2021 in the baseball world was a step back toward what we were used to. High school baseball seasons started and finished, even if they were delayed or shortened. There was a 162-game major league season. Stadiums were eventually filled with fans again. There was a minor league season. And college coaches got back on the road.

It felt good.

Once again, I asked our staff to reflect on the year and share something memorable for them or their state. For some it was a storyline, others a moment in a pivotal game. All of which you can read below.

For me, plenty stood out. Like seeing a high school game again, for the first time in more than 300 days, at the Florida Preseason Classic. Or when I walked into LakePoint for the National Program Invitational on June 10. It felt different and it only took a second for me to realize why--college coaches were on the recruiting trail again. But my absolute favorite moment of the year came on March 12, at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas, one year to the day since I flew home wondering what was going to happen next.

SS Jordan Lawlar (Dallas Jesuit Prep, TX) has always been at or near the top of his class. There were high expectations going into the spring. As I headed to Texas for a tournament weekend, the buzz was that he was struggling. He was going to fall in the draft. There were questions about the bat. Why wasn’t he dominating? Mind you, the season wasn’t even three weeks old yet. The first couple games, he had a couple hits, but nothing loud. Then, he stood on deck in the bottom of the seventh with his team down 5-4, a runner on, and a new arm warming up. It’s exactly what everyone wants. Game on the line, the star at the plate. He took a called strike, then watched a ball outside. The third pitch was a hanging breaking ball and…

It was annihilated, clearing a pavilion that sits in left field. My media background instilled “no cheering in the press box” in me. Because of that, and the fact that I was getting video, it took everything in me to not get too caught up in the moment, but I was so fired up to witness it. I’ll never forget it and I hope it’s just the first of many awesome Lawlar moments we’ll see for years to come.

Shooter Hunt
For me, the Future Games is always the best moment of the year. You’ve got an entirely uncommitted event attended by every college coach in the country. The massive stage provides unreal opportunities for the players, and watching them succeed in front of so many eyes is rewarding. This year, there were so many star-studded performances. The “Big Four” (CA-FL-GA-TX) brought a full collection of future superstars who showed out, and brought buzz prior, during, and after the event. The usual suspects all had big arms and dynamic athletes all over the diamond. But in the midst of all the hoopla, an infielder from “somewhere in middle America”, SS Camden Kozeal (Millard South HS, NE), snatched the spotlight of the event as his preparation met opportunity. The mild-mannered left-handed hitting slugger showcased an elite hit tool, and later committed to Vanderbilt. Not only did Kozeal’s performance reinforce the fact that baseball is still alive and well all across the country, but it seemed fitting that with so many college coaches in attendance, a kid from Omaha was the one nobody could take their eyes off of.

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