GENEVA, Ill. -- Louisville commit and top-tier 2018 MLB Draft prospect Jarred Kelenic's top on-field moment isn't far removed from memory.It occurred in October 2016 in the gold medal game between the Team USA U-18 baseball squad and Cuba. Having studied the last lefty to face the Cuban pitcher, Kelenic
GENEVA, Ill. -- Louisville commit and top-tier 2018 MLB Draft prospect Jarred Kelenic's top on-field moment isn't far removed from memory.
It occurred in October 2016 in the gold medal game between the Team USA U-18 baseball squad and Cuba. Having studied the last lefty to face the Cuban pitcher, Kelenic was expecting a breaking ball. He got one and smashed it over the wall in center, though that wasn't the only reason the moment stuck out.
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"I turned to look at my parents just to see their reaction and I could see that my dad was just sitting there bawling his eyes out," Kelenic said. "I don't know if he'll cry today."
Watched by his father, Kelenic -- along with 29 other high school prospects -- participated in Major League Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline Premier event Wednesday at Northwestern Medicine Field, home of the Kane County Cougars. The event is designed to create exposure for top area prospects for the 2018 and 2019 MLB Drafts.
"Your season starts now. I mean we had the Draft last week," one scout in attendance said. "So this begins the 2018 scouting, really."
For the various groups of players, the day involved both on-and-off-the-field testing. The first group began their day with an interview session before moving on to try their hand at three sets of drills. The athletes were timed in a 30-yard dash, measured while hopping up and down on each leg and tested responding to a series of sensors located in four directions around them.
"The reaction test with the four corners, that was a little bit different," said Tanner Kohlhepp, who showed out in front of scouts as both a shortstop and pitcher. "It's neat to see. I'm actually really excited to see what they use those metrics to measure for my projectability and things like that."
Kohlhepp wasn't the only one buzzing with curiosity. Kelenic stood over the monitor before his 30-yard dash, asking about the various parts that were measured and later comparing two of his trials at the event.
That curiosity and competitiveness showed throughout the day, as after an earlier attempt at the sensor drill Kelenic joked around with the other competitors, proclaiming, "Get on my level."
For the scouts who have followed him for some time, that type of good-natured fun with the sport isn't uncommon for the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Waukesha, Wis., product, who is considered a potential top 5 pick.
"I've seen Jarred quite a bit, since he's been 15 or so," another scout said. "He's obviously got tremendous raw power, he's got some feel to hit, good runner, arm strength, he's got almost all five tools. And he loves the game."
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And after the physical tests -- and before their batting practice and throwing and fielding sessions in front of the scouts -- the players went through another series of stations, having their grip strength and vision measured.
First the players tried to identify which of four sensors flashing at them had a different sign on it before moving over to a computer and having their eye-movements charted.
It took a few attempts for most of the players to get used to that testing, including outfielder and Class of 2018 product Alek Thomas, who called it the hardest activity of the day. However, for Thomas, whose father Allen is a strength coach with the White Sox, it was another in a long line of good memories with the sport -- which in his mind dates all the way back to the 2005 World Series.
"That was really cool, seeing pictures and little glimpses of memories of me in the clubhouse when the champagne being thrown around," Thomas said. "Just being out there with my dad is probably the biggest memory."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.