LANCASTER, OH - This past December, the Midwest Marlins were announced as a New Balance Program 15 Future Stars Series partner program. According to the Future Stars Series website, "The Future Stars Series is part of Program 15’s goal of ‘Developing the Stars of Tomorrow’, and aligns with both organizations’ mission to ‘Change the Game’ of baseball both on and off-field. With this new initiative, these two industry innovators are coming together to elevate the game of baseball by providing players across all economic levels an opportunity to reach their full potential through the training, development, and guidance of former MLB players, scouts, and coaches."
On Monday, February 15th, several Midwest Marlins made the trip over to Indianapolis, IN for the P15 Future Stars Series Combine. The purpose of the combine was to give players a chance to learn from and be evaluated by P15's staff of former professional players, coaches, and scouts. The P15 combine was unique as the primary focus of the event was on development, but it was still able to offer a significant level of exposure to the players.
Several Marlins had standout performances during the event. 2019 RHP/3B Dylan Swensen (Gahanna Lincoln HS) took home Top Prospect honors for the event as he saw his fastball get up to 88 during a dominate outing. Swensen felt that the event was a great opportunity for exposure and a chance to learn about his own game. "The event helped open up more opportunities for me to advance to the next level. It also gave me a view of how scouts view players, where I stand, and what I can improve upon" said Swensen.
The next Marlin to garner attention was 2019 RHP/OF Austin Erdely (New Albany HS) who was listed as the #4 prospect after posting velocities up to 86 mph on the mound. Erdely drew comparisons to former Oakland Athletics' pitcher Rich Harden from P15 VP of Scouting, Butch Baccala.
The Midwest Marlins 16u team was represented by 2020 LHP/1B Casey FInck (Lancaster HS). Finck's solid day at the plate and on the mound earned him recognition as the #8 prospect of the event. FInck was a big fan of the instruction that was delivered during the event. Finck stated, "I learned many different things about fielding and how all these training ideas could improve my game. I plan on taking in what the coaches taught me and working on every aspect of my game." Tyler Monk, 2019 MIF (Lancaster HS) and high school teammate of Finck echoed similar thoughts, “I thought the people there were good coaches and taught me some good things that I have never heard about. I think it definitely will help me as a player to use everything I learned.”
2019 C Reece Robson (Nelsonville-York HS) rounded out Marlins in the Top 10 when he was tabbed as the #9 prospect of the event. Robson impressed the P15 staff with "an advanced bat and high level approach" which led to exit velocities up to 93 mph. Robson's main takeaways from the event focused on learning what coaches and scouts are looking for. "I learned how pro level scouts do their job and what they look for in a player. They pointed out my flaws and what I need to work on, so I'll take that and work on it in the future" says Robson.
Other Marlins who caught the eye of the scouts were 2020 Cameron Downton (who was up to 94 mph off the tee), 2019 RHP/1B JJ Carr (who was up to 84 mph on the mound and hit 90 mph off the tee), and 2019 LHP/1B Clay Stivison (who impressed with one of the better breaking balls across the event). JJ Carr was a player who was refreshed by a camp focused specifically on development. "It was a completely new experience, not like a 'usual' camp at all. I loved how much of a learning experience it was. When the staff saw something wrong, or something that could be improved, they would would fix it. For example, Coach Baccala noticed my landing was off balance, and told me to stick my front foot. When I made the change, not only did my velocity increase, but my control was more consistent!" 2019 IF/OF Zach Coats (Chillicothe HS) and 2019 IF Noah Laurent (Gahanna-Lincoln HS) were also impressed by the P15 staff and enjoyed the quality personalized instruction.
Across the board, the Marlins organization was thrilled with the event. From the feedback to the exposure to the development opportunities, P15 is a partnership that is helping the Midwest Marlins distinguish themselves as a premiere team on the national level. The next P15 events for the Marlins include the 17u team traveling to Houston, TX for the Future Stars Series National Championships at the end of July, and multiple Marlins teams participating in the Great Lakes Super Regional in the fall. The Midwest Marlins are excited for everything that is in store. #changethegame