FORT MYERS, Fla. – In less than an hour on the opening morning (Saturday, Jan. 8) of the Perfect Game World Showcase at Terry Park, Tanner English proved to possess both the fastest legs and strongest outfield arm among all the participants.
It was a pretty impressive showing for the 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior outfielder and right-handed pitcher from St. James High School in Murrels Inlet, S.C., who has signed a national letter of intent to play for defending NCAA Division I College World Series national champion University of South Carolina.
English’s morning workout session at the World Showcase was nothing short of world-class. He turned in the event’s fastest 60-yard dash in 6.37 seconds and had the highest velocity on his throw from the outfield to home plate at 97 mph.
The second quickest 60 time was a 6.53 from Omar Garcia (2011, Oviedo, Fla.) and five other participants recorded outfield velocities of 91 mph, the closest to English’s effort.
“I felt really good,” English said after playing all three outfield positions and pitching one inning in an afternoon game. “I set some goals for myself to come down here and I thought I met them pretty well. I felt comfortable and had a great time.”
English entered the World Showcase ranked 160thnationally and No. 7 in South Carolina (class of 2011) by Perfect Game. He has had plenty of exposure at Perfect Game events the last several years as a member of the South Carolina-based Diamond Devils Baseball travel organization. The Diamond Devils won the PG WWBA 17U national championship last summer with English on the roster.
“I believe a lot of people who haven’t had the chance to see me in person have been able to go over to Perfect Game,” English said. “All the tournaments we’ve played at, they’ve seen me there and because Perfect Game is such a large organization that people come to these tournaments and they know good players are going to be there.”
This was, however, just the second PG showcase event he’s attended.
“I got the opportunity to come to this one, and I think I get seen a lot better by some of the pro guys that are here because they’re all here. It’s a national event,” English said. “It’s a great opportunity to get seen. You know that you’re playing with all the best guys out here and you want to help out your team and play to the best of your ability, but have fun while you’re doing it.”
Because of his somewhat diminutive size, English probably has his doubters. He looks upon it as a challenge, especially when he’s batting against a known power pitcher.
“I walk up to the plate, and I know I’m not a big guy, but what goes through my head is, ‘I dare you to throw it to me,’” English told thebigspur.com after signing his LOI with South Carolina. “I try not to do too much, just try to put the bat on the ball. It’s motivation to me because I’ve never been the biggest kid on the field and everyone would always scoot in when I would come to the plate. I would always try to drive it over their heads for a triple.”
English told Perfect Game on Saturday that his relative lack of size has led to a natural MLB favorite.
“I always say Jimmy Rollins because he’s little, he’s just like me, and we’re both quick, I guess,” English said. “I’ve always looked up to him as a player.”
English has one more season of high school baseball remaining, then he’ll be on his way to Columbia to begin his career as a Gamecock. He also entertained offers from Clemson, Auburn, Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston and initally gave a verbal commitment to Coastal.
“South Carolina is awesome and the coaches are awesome and I’m ready to get there,” English said. “It’s close to me and you know all the guys going there are playing for the school because it’s our state to represent, too. It’s a good opportunity for me and I’m excited about it.”