CARY, N.C. -- Bryce Clavon’s quick decision-making was on display early Thursday.
In his first at-bat for Team Navy in a Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League game, the right-handed slugger drove an outside fastball the other way to the right-center gap and immediately put on the afterburners. As he came into third, Clavon noticed a slight bobble by the Light Blue cutoff man and kept his feet moving, choosing to go for home successfully when he already had his first extra-base hit of the showcase in the bag.
Snap choices are nothing new to the shortstop, who spends his autumns as a three-star quarterback.
“Reading a defense, especially playing high school in Georgia where those guys are pretty big, I have to be quick in my decisions and make the right decision,” Clavon said. “I carry that over in baseball, and it pays off.”
Clavon isn’t far from making even bigger and more long-term decisions either.
One of the few uncommitted players in this year’s PDP League, Clavon decommitted from Oklahoma in March 2022, having first announced his intention to join the Sooners two years earlier. Since then, he’s fielded offers from Division I schools, including Power Five programs like Indiana, where he has a confirmed opportunity to play two ways.
But on Thursday, Clavon was playing like someone who could get heavy consideration for the 2024 Draft class.
His right-handed swing can allow him to stay short to the ball with enough power in his 6-foot frame to drive the ball to the gaps and enough speed to grab extra bags. He put those skills on display again in the third inning when he raced for another triple, this time to left-center, and after going down 1-2 in the count, he added a walk in the fifth for good measure.
After opening the PDP League 0-for-3 with a strikeout, Clavon focused on his mechanics via a FaceTime call with his dad, Jah Blessed, who told him to focus on the positioning of his hands during his load. Clavon felt the impact almost immediately in Thursday’s pregame batting practice.
“When my hands are flowing smooth and I’m staying through the ball, I feel like the best hitter ever,” he said. “But if they’re just a little bit off, it messes with your head a little bit. So you’ve got to keep the confidence and play through it.”
That confidence and ability to adjust are forcing PDP League evaluators to take notice.
“Unbelievable athlete,” said 18U National Team manager and 15-year Major League veteran Michael Cuddyer. “He’s probably one of the most dynamic players out here, there’s no question about that.”
While the PDP League serves as a great showcase for 18-and-under players in front of scouts the summer before their senior years, it also acts as a de facto tryout. The group of 100 members of the Class of 2024 will be whittled down to 40 for 18U National Team Training Camp in late August and then down to 20 for the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup from Aug. 31-Sept. 10 in Taiwan.
Considered by many to be a Top 20 prospect in his class, Clavon is very much in the thick of those considerations. He’s helped his case by showing a willingness to play shortstop, second base or the outfield already in PDP play, though he also showed Thursday that he’s still raw in some aspects with a misplayed grounder at short and a caught stealing on a pickoff.
But there might be an issue there too.
“I would never talk someone out of doing something they want to do,” Cuddyer said. “You only get one chance at high school. Obviously from a National Team perspective, September is right in the middle of high school football season. That could be a decision he would have to make if we saw that as an option moving forward.”
Truth be told, Clavon is just the type of athlete baseball should dream sticks around -- one who could play at or near the top level of another sport but chooses the diamond as his primary platform.
In Clavon’s case, with his collegiate -- and maybe even professional -- decision day getting closer by the week, the sport may just be in luck.
“I want to play baseball at the highest level,” he said. “That’s what my focus is. … I fell in love with it at an early age. I just was fortunate to be good at football as well. I was always comfortable playing baseball, so that’s what I love to do.”