Aspiring baseball players in the area have a chance to get their big break Monday as the Kansas City Royals will be hosting an open tryout at Mill Creek Regional Park Monday.
The tryout — which is open to anyone who is at least a high school freshman — is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Among drills that participants will be asked to showcase their abilities in are the 60-yard dash, batting practice, and position-specific defense.
"We want to run this tryout as a way to gather a lot of talent in one place," said Sean Gibbs, Royals’ area supervisor for Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. "There is a lot of talent in the state of Georgia, but that talent is a little more spread out in the south part of the state. Hopefully, Monday will be a time when a lot of the great players in this area can all showcase their abilities."
As for the organization sending its talent scouts, the Royals are a franchise that is well aware of what players from the Statesboro area can accomplish.
Former Georgia Southern pitcher Everett Teaford was drafted by Kansas City in 2005 and made his major league debut last month. Likewise, Statesboro alum Crawford Simmons was selected by the Royals in the 2009 MLB draft and is currently a member of the Kansas City farm system — which has topped many experts’ lists in recent years as the best in baseball.
While Monday’s participants won’t have a professional contract waiting for them after just one day of performing, the tryout could be an important first step for those with big-league aspirations. With thousands upon thousands of high school seniors becoming eligible for the MLB draft each year, Gibbs stressed that it is important to take any and every opportunity to get noticed.
"As much as we’re looking for talent on the field, this is also a lot about making contact with players," said Gibbs. "The vast majority of players don’t get signed or drafted because of being seen one time. Running these tryouts allows us to start a profile on players and track them through the next few years.
"With teams shelling out six and seven-figure deals to draftees, we want to be as familiar as possible with all of the guys we look at. Coming out to these tryouts and showcases as often as possible shows teams that a player is dedicated to their goal and makes the evaluation process much more precise."
Gibbs and the Royals are looking especially for high school-aged players because of the drawn out evaluation of prospects.
But even so, the organization welcomes anyone who thinks they have what it takes.
"We’re out there looking for guys that we think can play professionally," said Gibbs. "Obviously, we want to identify prospects as early as possible, but everyone is welcome. You never know where the next guy will come from."
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.