Some of the most talented young baseball players in the Statesboro area got their chance to make a good impression on some very important sets of eyes as the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball held an open tryout Monday morning at Mill Creek Regional Park.
Over a dozen high school students, college athletes, and even a few eager twenty-somethings took to the field to showcase their hitting, catching and throwing abilities in front of Royals area supervisor Sean Gibbs.
“We try to have at least one tryout like this in every state,” said Gibbs. “There’s so much talent out there that it can be a little overwhelming trying to get your eyes on everyone. By doing this, we can establish contact with a lot of guys at once and start to build a relationship.”
While the mood around Mill Creek was relaxed and much of the workout seemed informal, Gibbs was hard at work on his clipboard, charting every swing and throw from each participant for future reference.
“Finding players is a long and drawn out process,” said Gibbs. “This isn’t the sort of thing where you can show up and walk away with a contract. It is very important though. The more times these guys can be seen, the better clubs can evaluate their talent and potential.”
In speaking of the scouting process, Gibbs hinted that the younger a players starts showing up to open tryouts, the better. Even high school freshmen that are years away from hearing their name called at the MLB draft or signing a scholarship to a college can only increase their chances at future success by putting themselves on the radar of any team that is looking for talent.
As for some of Monday’s older participants, it was clear that while high school had already passed them by, the dream of catching a pro team’s eye was far from gone.
“I just got a call from a buddy of mine last night talking about a tryout,” said former Statesboro High star and current East Georgia player Luke Connell. “I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I had to come out and give it a shot.”
Also in attendance was Tucker Stone, 20, a right handed pitcher from Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta.
Stone has performed well in his first two years of college ball and was eager to show off his talent to Gibbs.
“It can be a little bit nerve-racking,” said Stone of pitching in front of a scout. “Luckily, I’ve been to a few of these and I’m used to it. The main thing is to keep going. If you want to get noticed, you have to take every opportunity to have someone see you play.”
As for Gibbs and the Royals organization, Monday was just another hot summer workout, but one that could hold a part of the team’s future.
“You never know what you’ll see at these tryouts,” said Gibbs. “Maybe we’ll meet someone out there who, a few years down the road, will prove that they’ve got what it takes to play professional ball.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.