June 25, 2015 - Ten Major League Baseball scouts from the Washington Nationals, the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers were at Shorter University on Wednesday as top players from high schools throughout the Southeast tried out for a spot in the Area Code Baseball Underclass Games, which will be held August 4-11 in Long Beach, Calif. About 100 players attended the tryouts, which were by invitation only.
Shorter University Assistant Baseball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Lee Bryant said the opportunity to host an event like Wednesday’s Area Code tryouts provides Shorter’s coaches access to some of the top high school prospects from the Southeastern United States.
“They are here on the Shorter campus, which gives us a chance to see what they can do without having to go anywhere,” Coach Bryant said. “From a recruiting standpoint, this costs us nothing, so it’s a great tool to get them introduced to our university and watch them play. So far, I have been impressed; it’s been a really good day.”
Area Code Baseball representative Joey Mahalic said the high school players who are chosen from Wednesday’s tryouts will play for the Nationals, which will represent the Southeast, in the Underclass Games.
“The Area Code Baseball Underclass Games will be five days of games between the top 200 kids in the country,” he said. “These are some of the best players from this region. About 92 percent of these kids will be going to Division I schools or will be playing professional baseball within a year of being in the games.”
The players who attended Wednesday’s tryouts are mostly rising seniors, but there were a few underclassmen on the field, including catcher Britt McKay, of Ocean Springs High School in Ocean Springs, Miss. The rising sophomore’s parents, Brooks and Kelli McKay, along with his grandmother, Margaret Sweatt, were braving the soaring temperatures to watch him try out.
Brooks McKay said his son is excited to be in Rome for tryouts, particularly because he realizes he’s one of the younger players invited to attend.
“When we got the email letting us know that he was invited to come, we couldn’t believe it. He’s a rising sophomore, so we’re trying to figure out how we’re even here!” he said. “This is a great experience for a small-town boy to come to something like this, where he is able to be around these great players. Plus, Shorter is a beautiful school, and we really have enjoyed being in Rome.”
Photo by Stacey McCray, assistant director of university communications
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