MARIETTA, Ga. -- Pro Player Academy was one of the few teams that was able to avoid rain and get a game in today at East Cobb for the 2013 17u WWBA National Championship. Simeon Lucas took advantage of the opportunity to show off his talents in front of a crowd of collegiate coaches and professional scouts, which he’s become accustomed to doing.
The 97th ranked prospect for the class of 2014 impressed the scouts again in the five-inning contest against the East Cobb New England Indians. Lucas went 1-for-2 with a single through the right side gap. He was also hit by a pitch and came around to score twice.
Pro Player Academy piled on the runs to win 12-3 just before another downpour came to wash away today’s remaining games. The coach of Pro Player Academy was happy to get the game at the East Cobb Complex in.
“It’s our first time in the five years I’ve been coming down here we actually (got) to play here, so it was a good experience for us and for the boys,” Pro Player’s coach, Mick Matsie said.
He and his players enjoyed a big win at the complex in their first pool play game of the tournament.
“I like the way we came out and swung the bats,” said Matsie. “Andrew Splitt did a nice job hitting two balls really hard: one to the left side and one over the center fielder’s head for four RBI. Our shortstop, Brandon Gibis, did a good job defensively for us.”
Conditions were sloppy after three days of off-and-on showers, but it didn’t affect Pro Player Academy on the field.
“We came together good as a team,” Lucas said. “We’ve been on and off hitting-wise, but today we really came through and started seeing the ball good.”
“This is how our spring was,” Matsie added. “As long as we’re keeping our fingers behind the ball and working our feet, everything should be alright.”
It also helps a lot to have a high-caliber backstop in Lucas controlling the game from behind the plate. Lucas is everything a coach could want out of a catcher.
“Simeon Lucas is awesome,” Matsie said. “He does a good job. He leads behind the plate, he’s got a great arm, and the rest of the team looks up to him as a leader, so he’s been really good for us.”
His coach praised his work ethic, saying that Lucas and his dad workout at least five days a week and that Lucas stays busy with a lot of showcases and tournaments. In fact, Lucas was a part of the biggest showcase there is: Perfect Game’s National Showcase, held at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.
“I couldn’t have thought of anything better to do, really,” Lucas said. “That was probably the best weekend I’ve played all summer.”
Lucas said he wanted to get his name around to certain scouts at the National Showcase, and it seems he did just that. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound catcher recorded a catcher velocity of 84 mph, and has a pop time of 1.91 behind the plate. Those are impressive numbers, but what makes them even more impressive is the fact the Lucas made the transition from shortstop to catcher just a few years ago.
“They said I was getting too tall so they put me behind the plate and I just had that quick release throw,” said Lucas. “I’ve been working on my arm strength; getting that up.”
There’s always something for Lucas to improve on, which is the mindset coaches and scouts prefer.
“I can never be happy with my performance,” Lucas said. “I’m always my greatest critic trying to get better.”
Even after his game today, Lucas was not high on his performance, saying that it could’ve been better. He was glad he got the chance to take the field today, unlike most teams, and show scouts who may not have been at the National Showcase what he’s got.
“It’s pretty cool. It means that this is the real deal and everybody’s gotta bring all they got and today I felt like our team did that,” said Lucas.
Pro Player Academy scored 12 runs on seven base hits, including multi-hit efforts from Splitt and Gibis. Splitt collected two doubles, while Gibis added a triple.
Pro Player Academy is scheduled to play a doubleheader on Monday before returning to the complex on Tuesday.