BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)- Baseball is America’s past time, and many children across the country dream of one day stepping onto a major league diamond. The road to “The Show” can take several twists, turns, and detours. For many players, try-out camps are a last-ditch effort. The Chicago White Sox held their annual camp Monday at Regions Field, with nearly 100 players coming out to strut their stuff. ”Some of the kids here today come from big programs,” says Warren Hughes, the Director of Scouting for the Southern Division for the White Sox. ”They’ve just finished their senior year, so they’re trying to go out and fill a roster and continue their baseball career.”
Players came from all over: Auburn, Miles, Samford, junior colleges. Huffman High School…and CBS42! I was offered the opportunity to go through the drills and see if I have what it takes to cut it for the big league club. I went through five drills: pitching, running, outfield, infield, and hitting.
I always fancied myself a pitcher, even though I had almost zero control during my playing days. I warmed up for a couple of minutes before heading over to the bullpen. My fastball topped out at around 70 mph, while my curveball was a pedestrian 57 mph. It’s hard to impress with those numbers when the guy after me was hitting 89 mph on the radar gun.
The White Sox obviously value speed, because their AA-club, the Birmingham Barons, are leading the Southern League in stolen bases. “If a player is a really good runner, if he’s a center fielder, that’s obviously really important,” explains Hughes. The standard is around 6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash. For this drill, I was paired up with the fastest outfielder at the camp, Samford University’s Christiaan Durdaller. He blazed through in less than the 6.6-mark. I came in at 8.37 seconds. Definitely not patrolling the outfield for Chicago anytime soon.
I played outfield all through my career, in part due to a fairly strong arm. For this drill we had to field a ground ball in right field, then make throws to third base and home plate. “You showed some potential from the outfield,” said Hughes. ”Your arm played a little bit better out there.” Score!
You would think that shorter throws would be easier to make than longer ones. Think again. For this one, I lined up at shortstop, fielded a grounder, and had to make a throw to first. It didn’t help that I was wearing tennis shoes and sliding all over the infield. Out of the five throws I made, only one could even pass for a real baseball move.
This is where the stars are made. Nothing catches an MLB team’s eye quite like a boatload of home runs. Well, they’ll have to look elsewhere. I struggled through batting practice, only making solid contact on one pitch.
“There are some other guys here who may be just a little bit ahead of you today,” says Hughes. ”If it was a little bit thinner group, like if there was one person here today, you’d be at the top of the heap.”
So there we have it. I will not be joining the Chicago White Sox. As the old saying goes, “There’s always next year.” Maybe I can make them pay and go to the cross-town Cubs. I’m not holding my breath.