The Washington Post
Looking for a Big-League Break;
Area Baseball Players Demonstrate Skills for Pro Scouts
Adrenaline flooding his insides, Woodbridge right-hander Joe McLain could
feel hundreds of eyeballs boring through him. There was no score and
nobody on base, but the gravity of the situation was palpable. McLain
felt as though his entire baseball future might hinge on these precious
This was no game. In fact, it was January, and McLain wasn't even facing
a batter when he tried to unleash his all-time best offerings. This was
last winter at the Baseball Factory All-American Weekend at Dodgertown,
the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla.,
where scouts from all 30 major league teams flock annually to check out
much of the top high school baseball talent in the country.
"That's what initially started getting me letters in the mail--being seen
down there," said McLain, the 2000 All-Extra Player of the Year who has
committed to Coastal Carolina. "That was a big part of the recruiting
process for me."
McLain this year is one of six local players--three from Woodbridge--
chosen to take part in the all-star weekend Jan 12-14. McLain made The
Baseball Factory's 2001 Preseason All-American second team. Teammate
Alan Day, a pitcher/outfielder, and North Stafford outfielder Ricky
Scanlon were picked to the third team.
Woodbridge pitcher Billy Freeman, Osbourn Park pitcher Jeff Dagenhart
and Hylton outfielder Jason Brown, each an honorable mention, are the
other local players eligible to take part in the showcase.
McLain's baseball career has not been the same since his Dodgertown
appearance in January. With strong showings of their own, the other
locals perhaps could coax similar results.
"For pitchers, they had kind of a bullpen where they had all the scouts
there with radar guns, and each pitcher got to throw an individual bullpen,
" McLain said. "I got to throw as hard as I could and show off my pitches
to all the scouts."
McLain, who last spring went 6-1 with six complete games while batting
.432 with 22 RBI, clocked in at 89 mph in Florida, about 6 mph faster
than he had thrown a few months before at another showcase. During this
robust audition, he caught a glimpse of the scouts holding up their radar
guns, so impressed with the performance they were eagerly sharing the
results. The pitcher thought he was about to burst.
"To see so many scouts there, the adrenaline is like nothing I've ever
felt before," said McLain, ranked No. 75 on Baseball America's national
prospect list. "[But this time] I don't think I'm going to worry too
much about my performance. I'm not going to go out and slack off, but
I'm going to try to have a little more fun and not be so uptight about
how I'm doing."
The participants stay in the same quarters that house the Dodgers during
spring training. After a series of minicamps, drills and guest speakers,
the players divide into teams for the final day of the event.
With a scholarship secured, McLain will try to parlay another sharp
Dodgertown showing into a lofty draft position come June. Woodbridge
teammate Day, set to play at Villanova, is in a similar position.
"It's a rare opportunity," said Day, another All-Extra choice last
season (.372 batting average, 7-2 with a 1.92 earned run average),
revered by scouts for his outfield arm. "We want to have that option
of going to college or going on to the [pro] level. It will be important
to the spring because they'll come out to see us if they liked what they
saw. It will make it even more fun to compete and maybe get drafted
With Woodbridge's McLain, Day and Freeman all chosen for the event, it
bodes well for the Vikings' chances this spring. Last year the team
finished 16-6 but fell in the Northwestern Region quarterfinals to
"It's not a feather in the cap of the program; it's more of a feather
in the cap of those players for scouts to think they're worth coming
down there," Woodbridge Coach Frank Chimento said. "It really says a
lot about how hard they've worked to be able to go to something like
that. It's lucky they go to our school, and the result of their hard
work reflects well on our program and will bring exposure to us in the
The other area third-teamer chosen, North Stafford's Scanlon, is a player
McLain and Day might remember well. Scanlon drove in the winning run off
McLain in a 2-1 victory in the region quarterfinals last season after
helping his team grab a third consecutive Commonwealth District tournament
title. Scanlon's hit was a single to left, a ball Day charged, barehanded
and fired home but not in time to retire the runner.
Scanlon batted .271, with 16 runs, 10 RBI, 5 doubles, 10 walks and 18
Whether they are at Dodgertown to pitch, hit, field or some combination,
one of the main challenges for any player there is to try not to press
too hard, a feat in itself.
"When you have 100 radar guns behind you, you think you have to overpower
it," Day said. "You can't really let that bother you, but how can you not
with all the radar guns? [But] it's not like this one thing will predict
everything for your future."