Wallingford makes first PG visit

Showcase : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Elkhorn, Neb., really isn’t a city anymore. It became a 6,000-person “neighborhood” when it was annexed by the city of Omaha in 2005.

And it was in that “neighborhood” that young Caleb Wallingford honed his athletic skills, as a football and basketball player, but most importantly as a talented 6-foot-3, 190-pound left-hander pitcher. Talented enough, anyway, to earn a scholarship from Kansas State University where he’ll likely join the Wildcats and Coach Brad Hill next fall.

On Sunday (Feb. 13), Caleb and his father, Scott Wallingford, were at Perfect Game USA’s headquarters here for the Perfect Game Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase, a popular event that attracts many of the top prospects from around the Midwest, along with a nice gathering of professional scouts.

It was Caleb’s first participation in a Perfect Game event and came after he had already signed his National Letter of Intent with Kansas State. But to father and son, this seemed like a worthwhile trip.

“It gives him an opportunity to kind of gauge where’s he’s at as far as a player,” Scott said. “Plus it gives him some exposure to (professional) scouts and hopefully he’ll be on their radar screens – pun intended – and someone they’ll be keeping an eye on over the next couple of years.

“His goal, obviously, in going to college is getting an education, but I think there’s not a kid in here that wouldn’t tell you they want to play in the Major Leagues,” Scott continued. “When I asked him, ‘Hey, you want to drive over here 4½ hours from Omaha?’ he said, ‘Last I heard, nobody’s called me to ask what my signing bonus number is, so it’s probably about time to find out where I’m at and what I’ve got to do.’”

Caleb expounded on that conversation:

“Once you reach one goal, you’ve got to move on toward the next,” he said. “As soon as I signed (with Kansas State) I knew my next goal was to get drafted, and coming here and getting in front of the pro scouts would be a good opportunity.”

The Wallingford’s weren’t really up to snuff at the opportunities Perfect Game can present, but both father and son had put their ears to the pavement.

Scott Wallingford said his family was talking with a couple of different scouts from the Minnesota Twins organization and he asked one of the regional supervisors specifically who he should get Caleb involved with.

“He said, hands down, Perfect Game is the one they pay attention to. He said if you’re going to do it, go to Perfect Game. That’s basically how we found out about it,” Scott said.

“I had heard a lot about Perfect Game just with their scouting through the pro services and whatnot, and I knew (the PG Indoor) would be a great way to get in front of the pro scouts during the winter. It’s not an opportunity you get every day,” Caleb added.

When it came to making a college choice, Caleb said he was in a kind of “see-saw” battle in his mind between selecting Kansas State and Wichita State as his final destination.

“At the end of day, I decided I wanted to play in the Big 12 against the best competition that I could,” he said. “Either way, I wanted to move onto the next level afterwards, so I wanted to play against the best competition.”

Which begged the question: Did the University of Nebraska come into play at all, especially since its switch from the Big 12 to the Big Ten?

“That wasn’t really a factor for me,” Caleb said of the Big 12-Big Ten question. “I was more comfortable going to Kansas State as opposed to taking the standard road of an in-state school.”

Caleb Wallingford wasn’t the only Kansas State signee who participated in the PG Indoor this weekend. Also in attendance were left-hander Robert Youngblut (2011, Stillwater, Okla.), left-hander Joseph Flattery (Iowa Central CC) and left-hander Braden Shull (2011, Mount Pleasant, Iowa).

“I’ve talked a little bit with some of the guys who have signed, but not too much, obviously,” Caleb said. “We’ll probably all get to meet each other pretty soon here, but we try to keep in touch a little bit through whatever it may be – just trying to get to know each other before we meet next fall.”

It’s a meeting that will certainly take place unless that unpredictable MLB Draft decides to knock on the door.
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