What's it like to throw in front of MLB scouts?

Brendan C. Hall/USA TODAY Sports

What's it like to throw in front of MLB scouts?

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What's it like to throw in front of MLB scouts?

BOSTON — Preseason American Family Insurance All-USA Baseball Team selection Mike Vasil of Boston College High took his first throws of the spring Thursday afternoon, going three innings in a scrimmage at home against Bishop Hendricken (Warwick, R.I.).

On the mound, it was the Vasil that’s come to captivate the Massachusetts high school baseball landscape, fanning six batters with a deft array of fastballs and curves — though the Hendricken batters were ready for his heat, as evidenced in his final inning.

And behind the backstop, it was a scene we’ll be seeing every time the 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior right-hander takes the hill: Dozens of Major League Baseball scouts with notebooks and clipboards in hand, some hunched over their police-issue-sized radar guns, others peering into a handheld video camera, studiously documenting his every move.

“It’s definitely exciting, but it’s something you’ve just got to deal with and take control of,” said Vasil after the scrimmage. “You can’t really focus on them. You’ve just kinda got to put that aside and focus on pitching.”

By now players like Vasil, a projected first-round pick currently ranked the No. 30 overall MLB draft prospect by Baseball America, are used to this kind of attention. Last month, Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.) lefthander Matthew Liberatore, a projected top-five pick for June, made his first start of the high school season with nearly 150 MLB scouts, cross-checkers, scouting directors and front office personnel watching. It’s not uncommon to see some of the nation’s top high school arms routinely draw crowds of various MLB personnel numbering in the triple-digits for their starts.

Vasil recalled his first outing in front of a throng of 100-plus scouts, last summer at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., and admitted “It was a little nerve-wracking at first”.

“But I figured, you know, if I’m good enough to pitch at that level against that kind of competition, and face those hitters, then I felt pretty confident (going forward),” he added.

The biggest thing to remember? Be yourself. Play like nobody’s watching.

“You definitely want to be able to perform,” Vasil said. “They look at everything — what kind of competitor you are, what kind of teammate you are. I think the most important thing is, whatever I was doing before – freshman, sophomore, junior years – to do it now. Never change just because they’re back there. Stay true to yourself.”

Vasil, a University of Virginia commit, was sitting around 94-95 mph on his fastball Thursday. And while the Hendricken batters were able to turn on his high heat, taking one for a stand-up RBI double in the first inning and scattering a few more runs in the third, Vasil’s off-speed stuff kept them guessing:

We didn’t see any of Vasil’s changeup, which typically sits in the low-80’s with splitter-like movement, and he also wields a mid-80’s slider. He’s yet to throw it in game action, but Vasil says he’s been working on adding a cutter to his repertoire, which if effective should only add further intrigue to his draft stock this spring.

Vasil is coming off a 2017 campaign in which he posted a 9-0 record with a 0.50 ERA and was the Boston Globe’s Player of the Year in the MIAA Division 1A “Super 8” State Tournament. His first regular-season start is scheduled for Monday at league rival Malden Catholic, with as many as 100 scouts expected to be in attendance.

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What's it like to throw in front of MLB scouts?
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