By John Bombatch
MASON — Xenia Scouts baseball players pitched, caught, threw and ran during Tuesday’s Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League All-Star Game at beautiful Prasco Park … and that was before the game had even started.
Evan McDonald, Matthew Wade, Jeremy Barth and Jorge Lozano were on hand as selected All-Star team members of the South Division team, which was co-managed by Scouts coach Bubba Cates. Fellow teammate Adrian Marquez was there as well, participating in the Major League Baseball scouting combine.
“It was a good experience. I enjoyed it. It was fun. Nerve wracking? Nah. I’ve done this a couple times before — once with the White Sox and back at home — so I’m a little bit used to it,” said Marquez after his final 60-yard dash of the combine. “I feel like I did well. My pitching could’ve been a little better. Other than that, I felt pretty good.”
Barth and McDonald each took their turns in the batting cage during pre-game warm-ups and the MLB scouts were fixated on each and every swing. Barth bashed at least one hit off the Prasco Park bleacher wall out on right field, past the 320-yard sign.
Wade, McDonald and Lozano were seen shagging fly balls out in the outfield while other members of the South Division team were hitting batting practice. McDonald was seen swiping up grounders in the outfield, with his catcher’s mitt!
Moments before batting practice got under way, Cates gathered his South players together to explain the lineup sheet. In an effort to get everybody in the game, Cates utilized a platoon system where the red color-coded players on the lineup card would replace the blue color-coded starters. He also devised a way to run the lineup to where most of the team’s pitchers would be handled by a catcher from their own team.
“The guys did fine in the combine,” Cates said. “It’s a talent showcase out there, and I thought guys like Adrian (Marquez) did pretty well. He’s got some talent. He runs well, he throws well and he has some power for his size. We used him on the mound for 2-3 innings against Richmond last week, and he struckout six guys. He’s got all the tools (the scouts) are looking for.”
Wade said he was enjoying his first All-Star Game experience.
“I hadn’t been able to have the opportunity to even be in summer ball for the last couple years due to injuries, so it’s nice to be selected to this and to come out here and play. It’s really been fun,” he said.
McDonald played catcher during the scouting combine.
“It’s been really cool meeting all the top players from the other teams. You can see them from behind the plate, but it’s good to get to know them personally, and to meet the players on the other team as well, so it’s been really cool,” McDonald said.During batting practice, each player rotated in and out of the batting cage after five swings. Barth bounced one of his first series of swings off the brick facing of the Prasco Park right field bleachers for what would’ve been a home run.
“It’s been great. It’s one of those things that, in the beginning of the season, you try to make it one of the goals you will accomplish,” Barth said. “Now that you’re here, you just have to be thankful for the opportunity and you thank the Lord for that. … It’s been fun, and it’s going by so quick. I just want to take it all in and really enjoy the game, and hopefully win.”
Lozano and Wade faced a combined eight North batters and gave up one hit while striking out two, without giving up a walk.
McDonald was 0-for-2 while Barth singled in the sixth to go 1-for-2.