Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beals on Recruiting Trail at Legion Tourney

Came after this after completing today's news and notes, and didn't want to save it until tomorrow.

A colleague of mine within the Newspaper Nework of Central Ohio, Sean Golden of the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette has a story in today's paper about the State Legion Tournament. The tournament being played out in Lancaster has had it's share of college coaches on hand scouting the talent, headed by Ohio State's Greg Beals. It's a fun read and shows that Beals is staying true to his word and hitting the recruiting trail hard.

College scouts keep a watchful eye at Legion tournament

-Sean Golden

LANCASTER -- Greg Beals found a spot on the stone steps near the press box Tuesday at Beavers Field to watch -- and evaluate -- the talent before him at this week's American Legion state tournament.

Beals, hired June 17 as Ohio State's baseball coach, was one of dozens of college coaches and scouts that will watch games at Lancaster's three Legion tournament sites this week.

"It's toward the end of the recruiting season," Beals said. "But being our state legion championship, it's a must-stop for me to see the talent here and support Legion ball in our state."

Beals was identifiable, like his colleagues, by the university polo shirt on his back, the stopwatch in his hand and the stack of notes sitting next to him. Do the players know that he -- and a number of onlookers from baseball programs of all levels -- are in attendance?

"I think when they come to these state-qualifying tournaments, it's pretty well known there's going to be some college coaches," Beals said.

"And the players, they have goals and desires and dreams about where they want to play. So I'm sure they look around before they play and get a feel for who's there."

Kyle Nelson, 17, is a senior at Marysville High School and is in his second year playing Legion baseball for Marysville Post 79. Nelson noted which schools had scouts in attendance before his team's games at Beavers Field on Tuesday.

"Oh definitely, I do," Nelson said. "But it doesn't change the way I play or anything."

By becoming the new host of the Legion state tournament, Lancaster has become a showcase of sorts for some of the best baseball talent in the state.

After July, a busy month for baseball recruiting, Beals said the American Legion tournament is among the last chances that coaches have to evaluate talent during the summer months.

The often-tricky rules of recruiting in college athletics still apply.

Coaches may have face-to-face contact with players before and after tournaments in the summer. But no such contact is allowed while players' teams are still alive in the tournament.

Mike Deegan has been an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with Division III Marietta's baseball program for seven years. He has paid a visit to the Legion state tournament every year.

"We're recruiting guys that are going into their senior year of high school," Deegan said. "We're looking for the best players, the best athletes. We circle them, and then follow up with a phone call or an e-mail to see what they're planning to do in the fall of 2011."

Anthony Kidston, 17, is a junior at Defiance High School and in his second year as a pitcher and right fielder for Napoleon Post 300. Kidston has garnered attention from programs like Kentucky, North Carolina and Louisville.

He knows of several current and former teammates who have gone on to play different levels of college baseball. He said he anticipates that the further his team goes, the better chance he'll get looks from college scouts.

"If you have a good game, it's going to affect how they look at you or how they feel you'll fit into their system," Kidston said. "You always try to do the little things -- but even if you have a bad day, they can still see the tools you have."

Beals, who has coached college baseball for 15 seasons, said it's no small number of players who have gone from being discovered playing Legion baseball to success in the college ranks.

But scouting at spots like the state tournament is just one step, he said.

"There's a lot more to the process than seeing if they can run, throw and catch," Beals said. "That's what we're doing today, trying to find that talent. But we've got to follow up and make sure they're the right student-athlete for our program."

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