FORT MYERS, Fla. – Hard-throwing Lexington, Ky., right-hander Clinton Hollon isn’t lacking for motivation, nor is he lacking for confidence.
A 6-foot-1, 190-pound incoming junior at Woodford County High School, Hollon came into the 2011 Perfect Game Junior National Showcase at City of Palms Park in proud possession of Perfect Game’s No. 3 national prospect ranking (No. 1 in Kentucky) with the idea of perhaps returning home with an even higher ranking.
Right-hander Christopher Rivera from Fullerton, Calif., and left-hander Garrett Williams from Shreveport, La., are the two players ranked ahead of Hollon in PG’s 2013 national rankings.
But when it comes to a prospect to emulate – and perhaps even pursue – Hollon looks toward Tampa right-hander Lance McCullers, PG’s No. 1-ranked national prospect in the class of 2012.
“I try to follow the path of who is No. 1 in front of me, so I look at Lance McCullers,” Hollon said. “I try to stay on the same map as him because he’s No. 1 in the nation (in his class). I’m No. 3 right now and hopefully I can move up to No. 1 (in my class) by throwing a little bit harder this year.”
McCullers set the PG Junior National record with a 95 mph fastball last year. Hollon was out to break that record Wednesday morning.
He isn’t all about the rankings, however.
“I go out there and try to prove them right, but rankings aren’t that big of a deal to me,” he said. “If I’m throwing 96 and they rank me (No.) 100, I’m still throwing 96. Either way, I just hope the scouts come out and watch me.”
There were dozens of scouts watching Hollon pitch Wednesday morning and hundreds of others have watched him at Perfect Game events starting last year. He wasn’t particularly sharp Wednesday, giving up a run on four hits with a couple of strikeouts in his three innings of work.
He also didn’t approach McCullers’ record, maxing out at 91 mph. That’s still pretty impressive for a 16-year-old who is sure to do nothing but get stronger.
Hollon previously attended the 2010 Perfect Game Ohio Valley Showcase in his hometown of Lexington and received rave reviews. “On the mound, his arm works very well,” the PG scouting report read. “He worked quickly and his fastball had late life and good movement. … He also showed a slider that has tight spin and flashed a changeup with good arm action and potential.”
He has also participated in three PG WWBA tournaments, all with the Kentucky Baseball Club.
“I just try to get better than the last one I went to,” Hollon said. “Perfect Game has the most highly regarded showcases and tournaments, so everybody’s out here looking at you.”
Hollon missed about a month of his high school season with mild tendinitis in his right arm, but came back to strike out 66 batters in 33 innings with only two walks.
“I was throwing real consistent and I topped out 96-97 this year,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll come out here and throw a little bit harder than I did last year and show some improvement.”
Hollon has already verbally committed to the University of Kentucky, a logical a choice in his mind.
“It’s my hometown and SEC baseball is the best you can get,” he said. “There was no reason to go anywhere else. I can stay home and stay close to family.”