The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

April 12, 2013

Scott Dudinskie's column on high school baseball: You can bank on these guys

You may have noticed the preseason all-star team published in our annual spring sports preview edition.

That list would probably be better described as "returning players who had the best seasons a year ago."

There are no hunches, only proven commodities. It's difficult to argue with the back of a guy's baseball card.

If a J.V. reserve suddenly makes the quantum leap to varsity stardom, he'll get his due when it matters most (in my opinion) -- at season's end.

While creating this year's preseason team, I kept coming back to the same handful of players.

They're bona fide all-stars, for certain; their places on the team were never in question.

But these few -- "name guys," I find myself calling them -- stand apart from the rest. Their names may as well be written into the batting order with neon letters because they burst off the lineup card when an opposing coach scans it.

Mifflinburg senior Oakley Whitesel, Midd-West junior Shane Connahan and Shikellamy sophomore Nick Dunn are name guys.

They're more than tough outs; they're game-changers who must be handled with care, particularly given the hitters slotted around them.

That's not to say their teammates are poor hitters; they simply don't have the track record of the name guys. Coaches will take their chances with the other eight players rather than let the big boppers beat them.

There's a reason San Francisco's Barry Bonds was walked 232 times (120 intentional) in 2004; he was three years removed from hitting 73 homers and only one other Giant batted .300 that season.

Being the name guy in high school, though, can be extremely challenging. Like Bonds, he may not see a strike (unless it's a mistake pitch) in any of his three or four at-bats.

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