Five or six hours in Atlanta could be life-changing for five local baseball players.
Lakeside High School senior Lane Wallace, along with senior Garrett Wilkinson, sophomores Matt and Kyle Anderson and Raekwon Bennett from Evans, took part in the Georgia Underclassmen 100 this past week.
The showcase event put the players in front of college recruiters and professional scouts, performing defensive drills, taking batting practice then participating in a game against a squad of selectees from Alabama.
Wilkinson had his day in the sun Wednesday, Wallace went Thursday, while the Andersons and Bennett finished the event on Friday.
“There’s not too many places you can see this many quality players at one time,” said Loganville High School head coach Jeff Segars, who started the event nine years ago.
The Georgia Underclassmen 100 is something of a misnomer, as 120 rising juniors and seniors were tagged to participate as well as 40 rising sophomores. During June, the event’s scout committee went to 12 different regional sites to evaluate those who paid $100 for a chance to be selected.
In baseball, a five-tool player is one who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities, and that was largely the selection criteria.
“Kids will have great high school seasons but aren’t great tools guys that don’t get in,” Segars said. “The frustrating part is that there are quality players that are left out every year.”
Wilkinson helped lead the Knights to the state playoffs in 2012 as a pitcher and first baseman, but made the cut trying out as an outfielder.
“It’s an honor to be picked in the top 100,” Wilkinson said. “It will help my recruiting for next season.”
Against Team Alabama. Wilkinson went 1 for 3 at the plate, including a hard lineout. He played in the outfield and was also asked to pitch an inning. The lefty struck out three without allowing a hit.
“There were 97 pro and college scouts in the stands yesterday,” Wilkinson said. “I had a few schools tell me I did a good job hitting. I had a pretty good day.”
Lakeside’s Wallace did everything for the Panthers in 2012, from pitching to playing infield and outfield. Lakeside head coach Jay Matthews will take advantage of his versatility next year as well.
“He’s in the middle of a position change,” said Matthews. “We’ve got him catching this summer. He’s an excellent infielder, outfielder and has a shot to be our top pitcher next year.”
Wallace was happy to have the chance to show what he can do.
“It means a lot to play in front of scouts,” said Wallace, who tried out as a utility player. “I’m excited about the exposure.”