From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior right-handed pitcher, Shepherd (Texas)
Greatness Present: Sooner or later, be it a bloop or a blast, Kolek will eventually surrender a hit in 2014. Then again, with nearly a month of Shepherd’s season already in the books and the 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-handed pitching prospect blowing hitters away at an absurd rate, it may be a while before anyone scratches a knock off of him.
Ranked as the nation’s No. 4 prospect in the Class of 2014 by MaxPreps, Kolek has thrown 16 hitless innings to this point in the season, yielding just a walk against 35 strikeouts. For some perspective, 49 opponents have stepped into the box opposite Kolek and all but 14 have returned to the dugout without making contact.
He’s no slouch with the bat, either, producing a .359 average with a couple of home runs and 14 RBI through his first 13 games.
Greatness Past: Kolek overcame a gruesome injury when hebroke his left (non-throwing) arm in a game last spring, but rebounded to touch 100 MPH at the Area Code Games this past June.
Though he missed most of his junior year of high school competition, he showed the same brilliance prior to the arm injury, striking out 42 batters against 13 walks and six hits in 18 innings.
Greatness Future: Kolek has committed to Texas Christian, but is projected as an early round selection in this spring’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list.Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.