By Ryan Buck
Summer college showcases are becoming the defining scouting events for high school baseball players who aspire to play at the next level.
Players are competing with the best in the country while college and even major league scouts look on.
The pressure to perform is often too much, but the few that can harness it reap the rewards.
Cardinal Mooney third basemen Drew Beck had been attending them across the country since he entered high school.
He saved his best for last. As a result, he’ll be playing for the University of Dayton.
This fall, Beck made an impression on college coaches at the Showcase for the Cure at Walsh Jesuit in Cuyahoga Falls.
He had played in such prestigious events as the Perfect Game Junior National Tournament in Minneapolis and the Under Armour Midwest underclassmen event at the University of Illinois.
“The first couple were really nerve-wracking,” Beck said Thursday as he took a break from training with an all-star team in Cleveland.
It was hard not to notice college coaches dissect their every at-bat and every play in the field.
Coaches from the top college baseball programs attended. But Beck had a simple way of staying relaxed.
“I just had to stay even-keeled. I imagined I was back playing at Cene Park.”
Dayton coaches liked his size (6-foot-1 and 195 pounds) immediately.
“I had good bat speed and good pop from my bat and good arm velocity,” Beck said.
A few days later, he received an e-mail from Dayton coach Tony Vittorio, which led to a visit.
His experience at a high school camp on campus and his official visit sealed the deal.
“I took the baseball aspect out of it,” said Beck, who had also considered Xavier, Canisius, Buffalo, Mercyhurst and Seton Hill. “I fell in love with the school.
“People I didn’t even know came out and talked to me about how much I would like the school and I did,” Beck said. “I want to be in a winning program as well.”
Beck, now a senior, signed his letter of intent Wednesday at Mooney.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “All the hard work paid off. I knew since I was a freshman that this was what I wanted to do.”
Dayton, which won the Atlantic 10 Conference two years ago, offered him a scholarship at the Showcase for a Cure and Beck verbally committed to the Flyers’ program three weeks ago.
Deciding so close to signing day was an intense experience, he said.
“It kind of becomes a burden when you want something so badly.”
As a junior, Beck hit more than .400 and led the Cardinals in slugging percentage.
Mooney won 20 games, dominated the district tournament at their home field of Cene Park and advanced to a Division II regional final.
Dayton coaches have promised Beck a shot at playing the infield, but they also saw potential in the outfield.