Richland senior Trent Clark is a baseball nerd. He likes to get amped-up for an upcoming baseball season by watching Ken Burns’ baseball documentary with coaches and, whatever friends, he can find.
Trent Clark also is about to be part of baseball history too. Clark is expected to be among the first 20 players selected in the June draft by Major League Baseball. He’s been scouted by many, including Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein for Tuesday’s night home game against Euless Trinity. Epstein kept a low profile (no Cubs gear, hat pulled down over eyes) but talked after the game to Clark, who also met with Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Michael Young earlier in day.
Clark is a muscular, fast, left-handed centerfielder who has signed with Texas Tech, but likely won’t ever play a game for the Red Raiders in the mighty South Plains. If the Cubs draft Clark with the Cubbies’ No. 9 pick, the slot money is $3.08 million. So you get the idea. Comparisons to previous players ranges from Rickey Henderson to Vernon Wells.
Despite getting mainly walked this season, Clark had 17 hits in his first 32 at bats. He was walked 18 times in his first 50 plate appearances. But good hitters have to learn patience when that happens and Clark has done that well _ although when he’s pitched too he can hit a nearly 500-foot homers like he did at Arlington High last year when he sent a ball through an open classroom window. Richland football coaches wanted Clark to play football so they put him on varsity as a freshman. He was fearless as he is in center fielder, could run past defenders and would have been one of the state’s top players.
But as a sophomore, Clark decided to concentrate on his baseball future. He also came up with his thumbs-up batting style, which looks odd in baseball, but he picked it up from studying golfers.
“I was rolling over my wrists and my coach said try this,” Clark said. “It worked and it feels comfortable now and I didn’t want to change it.”
Clark’s baseball coach Chuck Wells was an assistant at Spring for Kenny Humphreys with star pitcher Josh Beckett went No. 2 in the 1999 draft (FYI behind Josh Hamilton).
“I remember Coach Humphreys having to sit at the phone all day long, picking it up as soon as he hung to talk to scouts,” Wells said. “That was back in the day. I am so thankful, I only get a couple calls. I can send out emails to every one, but that list has gotten pretty long.”