Clark, Jenkins discuss PDP League, Team USA and more

July 6th, 2022

CARY, N.C. -- Max Clark and Walker Jenkins are two of the best prospects participating in this year’s PDP League. I sat down with the pair of talented outfielders to talk about living up to expectations, trying out for Team USA, impressing scouts and their own “rivalry.” Be sure to listen to the entire conversation on this week’s MLB Pipeline Podcast.

Mayo: What are your thoughts about this event, the PDP League, and some of the things that you were able to take away from here?

Clark: I think this is one of the coolest events that I've ever been to. It's not often that you get to have the Top 100 guys in the country all at the same place, all competing with and against each other all at the same time. It's just a special feeling to be out here. I've been blessed to be here. And it's just super, super fun. And it kind of just changes my mindset on baseball.

Jenkins: One thing I really liked about this is the coaching staff. I don't think I've ever been surrounded by so many people that have played baseball for so long and know the game so well. And I feel like I knew baseball pretty well coming into this and had a pretty solid knowledge of the game and how to play different positions and my swing and different things like that. But you have guys who had been in the league for 12-15, even 20 years. Just different things in the outfield I've learned and picked up on different things with my swing that have allowed me to be more successful.

Mayo: You guys have been playing long enough to not put too much weight into what your numbers are in one event. But neither of you lit it up in terms of how you did. Do the things you learned help you leave with a positive even though you didn’t put up big numbers?

Jenkins: No one likes to play bad. It's frustrating, but I think I'm coming out of this a better player than I came into it. Even though we haven't played to the best of our abilities, everyone here knows that we're being challenged, which is making us better. Even though we get beat sometimes, this is the beginning of summer -- when we see more velo like this, we're not going to get beat nearly as much, I can promise you that.

USA Baseball

Clark: Neither of us have performed to what we're used to or what other people are used to [from us]. I know he's found a lot of barrels this week that have been caught. So you know, we're just kind of working through our swing and figuring stuff out and getting challenged. So those challenges, we’re getting feedback from our coaches. And then we go out the next day, we found more barrels.

Mayo: There are a lot of scouts, but you're also trying to make the US National Team. How do you balance that out? Do you recognize the scouts while also knowing that what Team USA is looking for might be different than what scouts are looking for?

Clark: That's a huge thing. One of the things that … was mentioned is that [they are not] looking for anything at what would get you drafted. [They’re] huge on character, how you respect your teammates, how you respect the game, how hard you want to work. Can you wake up at 8 a.m. every single day and put the same effort in that you did Day 1, Day 7?

But then you also have to come in here and perform your best for scouts. I think it ties into each other a little bit because also, scouts don't want to see bad teammates, bat slams, stuff like that. You have to balance the two, but I think I'm focusing more on working through both at the same time.

Jenkins: I'm trying to focus on my primary goal. The reason I'm here right now is to make it to the next round and ultimately make the national team. I think if I go out and perform and do what I do and can make that team, I think I will impress the scouts.

Clark: 100 percent. There's nothing better than putting on the Stars and Stripes. I mean, just hearing the stories from the big leaguers that have been on the actual Olympic team when it was in the Olympics, and then other guys that have played in the WBC, I know it will impress anybody that wants to scout us, because it just takes so much more to be a USA guy than it does to just be a pro baseball player.

Mayo: I'm going to ask you to put some scouting hats on. Let's stick just to the pitchers. Who are the pitchers that have really impressed you?

Clark: Cam Johnson to start off with. I've never seen a dude who can work both sides of the plate and sink and cut the baseball at the same time from the left side. And then that he's also 6-[foot]6-ish. So his angle, how he moves the ball and he was also like, 95-96 [mph] and has a ridiculous power slider. So lefty-on-lefty, that's just unreal. I've been very impressed with him.

Jenkins: I definitely agree with that. But I also think someone who has not thrown as hard, but has just dotted everyone up has been Derek Schaefer. He's more around 91, but his changeup is probably one of the best secondary pitches I've seen by anyone here. And then he has his curveball working and it's just going to play. He's working in and out, up and down with everything and just keeping batters off-balance.

Mayo: Do you put more pressure on yourselves to live up to the advanced hype of being considered perhaps the top two prospects here?

Jenkins: I've tried to create my own expectations. I'm trying to create my own path as I go. People obviously have high expectations, but I try to set my own goals. And if I feel like I can accomplish my own goal goals, I'm relatively happy about that.

Clark: When you start letting the pressure build, that's when you really just start doing your worst. I've gone through it, I'm sure he has too at times, but the only thing you want to do is keep that level head and just go and compete. Just playing your behind off is really all that you can do with those expectations. You're given those expectations because they know how good you are. They know what you can do. So you just got to go out there and do what you normally do. You don't want to press and try and do too much.

USA Baseball

Mayo: I want to close out with the reason why I wanted to sit the two of you down because I had heard that there was like a huge, bitter rivalry between the two of you. I'm not seeing it here. Do you want to set the record straight?

Clark: Everybody thinks we don't get along because I think all of my “fans” and all of his “fans” belittle each other on TikTok and Instagram. ... It was always just us being, “Guys, stop. We're cool.”

Jenkins: Obviously there's competition. Everyone wants to be the best, do the best and all that. It's a rivalry; I think that's one reason why we're so good, because we push each other. But the end of the day, that's all that is. There are no problems at all. Like he said, I feel like it's more people that aren't us that start things like that.

Clark: I know that he can do things that I can't do. And then there are things that I'm sure he likes in my game that he wishes he could incorporate. We learn from each other. It's just the friendly competition stuff that pushes us to get to the top. We're both reaching for the same goal.