PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

March 20, 2013

ON BASEBALL RECRUITING: PN-G's Ashworth, TJ's Gaspard a modern story

— Imagine this.

A former member of Port Arthur Jefferson’s 1983 state champions is head coach at an big-time, Division I school. He comes home and hears through the Southeast Texas grapevine that there’s a kid he needs to see over at Port Neches-Groves. The two talk (in strictly approved NCAA ways) and a scholarship is offered

What a pleasant fiction.

That could have been how the recruiting process played out for Alabama head coach and former Jefferson High shortstop Mitch Gaspard and Port Neches-Groves junior Logan Ashworth. However, it was a little simpler than that and right in line with a modern college baseball recruiting story.

Ashworth attended the Perfect Game Underclass Showcase, held from Dec. 28-30, 2012 in Fort Myers, Fla. at the Jet Blue Player Development Complex. There, the right-hander showed off a fairly polished repertoire that feature a four-seam fastball that gets up to 89 miles per hour with a good changeup and an 11-5 breaking curveball.

That was enough to put him on Perfect Game’s Top Prospect Team for the event and catch the eye of the Alabama coaches in attendance. After talking with them, the 6-foot-2, 180 pound Ashworth committed to the Crimson Tide program.

College baseball recruiting has become more about the workout circuit or travel teams than it is about the actual high school team. From a college recruiter’s perspective, this makes a lot of sense.

If some of the best players are clustered at one or two national events, it’s much easier to recruit and see the cream of the crop at one time. That way, the school is able to maximize its recruiting time and budget while still getting to see and possibly meet some top players.

That can also lead to a situation where a high school coach never even talks to the college coach recruiting his player. One area coach said he talks to college coaches less and less about players on his team they’re recruiting. It’s not unusual for a player to commit or sign with a school with said coach never talking to his new coach.

More than that, though, it doesn’t appear that Gaspard has many links to this area in recruiting. Actually, it doesn’t appear his program recruits the state of Texas heavily at all. Gaspard has only had two players from Texas on his rosters since taking over the head coaching job in 2010. One was from Lake Highlands in Dallas and the other was from Celina.

That doesn’t mean the link to the area was insignificant in Ashworth’s recruitment. It just lessens the impact their shared hometown had in discovery.

Ashworth may be going to college soon, but he won’t be the only area players on to the next level. There are a number of former Southeast Texas stars in the college ranks who are playing roles for their respective teams.

Bridge City’s Cameron Dishon has played in 10 games for Ole Miss this season. He’s hitting .200 with a .500 on-base percentage in five at-bats. The true freshman has also scored four runs and stolen all four bases he’s attempted.

Nederland’s Brett Brown has appeared in two games for Lamar this season. In his first, the true freshman ran the gamut of pitching highs and lows, striking out the side while also walking three and giving up a run. In his second, he avoided any walks, striking out one in a perfect inning of relief. Brown has yet to give up a hit this season.

PN-G’s Brandon Provost has appeared in 12 games and started 10 at catcher for Lamar. The sophomore has hit .235 with a .333 on-base percentage in 34 at-bats. Provost has driven in seven runs and scored four.

Bridge City’s Jake Lemoine has appeared in seven games for No. 28 Houston this season, starting two of them. The true freshman has a 1.19 ERA in 22 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking seven. Lemoine is 4-0 this season.

Nederland’s Emily Nolan has played in 29 games at catcher for Louisiana State College Eunice. The powerful freshman is hitting .386 with a .447 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage in 83 at-bats. Nolan has hit two home runs and eight doubles to drive in 26 RBIs while scoring 17 runs and stealing three bases.

Bridge City’s Matt Menard has played in nine games for Baylor, hitting .143 with a .333 slugging percentage. In seven at-bats, Menard has one RBI and a walk with three strikeouts.

Nederland’s Jude Vidrine is hitting .354 for Lamar this season. The junior has six doubles and one home run in 79 at-bats with a .480 on-base percentage and a .468 slugging percentage. Vidrine has also stolen two bases and has 11 RBIs and 21 runs scored.

PN-G’s Eric Harrington has started five games for Lamar, going 4-0 in 39 1/3 innings of work. The senior has a 2.29 ERA with 29 strikeouts and nine walks.

Nederland’s Trevin Sonnier has signed with Dallas Baptist University for next season, but will finish out this year with Panola College. The redshirt freshman is currently hitting .229 with a .339 on-base percentage in 48 at-bats. Sonnier has scored eight runs and has four RBIs, stealing six bases in 10 attempts.

Nederland’s Steven Schlett is also playing for Panola, appearing in 15 games for the Ponies. The freshman has hit .214 with a .389 on-base percentage that includes 12 walks in 42 plate appearances. Schlett has a triple and a home run, driving in seven runs and scoring six.

PN-G’s Jerin Spikes has appeared in two games for Lamar this season. He’s thrown 4 1/3 innings with a 4.15 ERA and six strikeouts.

Nederland’s Kirby Bellow has appeared in one game for Texas, facing three hitters. The junior allowed one hit, one walk and had one strikeout.

PN-G’s Austin Stone has appeared in six games and started four of them for Baylor this season. He has a 5.54 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 13 innings while giving up 13 hits and walking seven.

If you know of any other former area players currently in college, please email us their name and school at sports@panews.com.

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