JUPITER, Fla. – Lexington, Ky., 2013 right-hander Clinton Hollon offers a reasonable explanation as to why he chose to be at this week’s Perfect Game WWBA World Championship while skipping the WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers two weeks ago.
Hollon, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior at Woodford County High School, performed for the Kentucky Baseball Club as a high school sophomore at last year’s WWBA Underclass World Championship. He has since committed to his hometown school, the University of Kentucky, and just felt it was time to get in front of some different people.
“I went to Fort Myers last year for (the WWBA Underclass World Championship) and that’s where I should have been this year, but I decided to come to this,” Hollon said Thursday afternoon before the Kentucky Baseball Club’s WWBA World opener against the Red Sox Scout Team/Elite Squad.
“Having already committed to UK I figured I should go ahead and try to get in front of some ‘pro’ eyes and try to get my name out there a little bit.”
Hollon’s name and powerful right arm are already out there. He comes into the WWBA World Championship as the No. 2-ranked overall national prospect in his class and the No. 1-ranked right-handed pitching prospect.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 golf carts carrying scouts from just about every Major League team formed a half circle around Field 6 at the Roger Dean Complex to watch Hollon and several other top prospects in Thursday’s game. When Hollon came in to pitch about midway through, he immediately reached 95 mph on a radar gun held up from a tower at a fair distance from home plate.
Before pitching, Hollon spoke about experiencing the Jupiter event for the first time.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “There are supposed to be a lot of good players here and everything, so hopefully I’ll get to showcase my talent a little bit and impress all the scouts a little bit.
“But it is a little bit more than I expected,” he admitted. “I’ll definitely have some butterflies and definitely some adrenaline pumping, but hopefully it will all work in my favor and not against me today.”
The scouts watching his every move won’t affect his performance this weekend, he vowed.
“I’ve never really had a problem with it,” Hollon said. “The first couple of times I was a little nervous but now it’s just like playing baseball; it’s a part of it.”
Hollon said it was his mother, Karen, who started him playing baseball as a 4-year-old, although his father, Dwayne, also provided encouragement despite a football background. Hollon dabbled in football and basketball as a youngster, but now is strictly a baseball guy.
“I’d still like to play football but I don’t want to get hurt,” he said. “Basketball, now, I’m awful at it. I can do everything but dribble and that’s the biggest part.”
Hollon said he was always told that he had above-average arm strength but things really started to click for him in the summer of 2009, right before his freshman year in high school. He started attending Perfect Game events in 2010, which included the appearance at the WWBA Underclass World Championship and other WWBA tournaments with the Kentucky Baseball Club.
In June, he performed at the PG Junior National Showcase in Fort Myers where his fastball reached 91 mph, but reached 97 mph at a PG event since that outing.
The Perfect Game scouting report from August’s Ohio Valley Showcase in Lexington had this to say about Hollon:
“Hollon has emerged as one of the premier pitching prospects in the nation over the past year and has shown impressive progress over that time. (He) showed good command of his fastball, living at 92-94 mph with good run and sinking action. Hollon throws four high level present pitches from a smooth low effort delivery with a chance to develop four plus pitches.”
In choosing to stay home and attend UK, Holland offered a little something more about his personality away from baseball.
“It’s a great school and it’s SEC baseball; you can’t be anywhere better than that,” Hollon said, “and I’m a homebody, I’ll have to admit. I like to be at least close to home, even if I’m not at my house in Lexington. I like knowing I can go there if I have to.
“That played into it a lot – I’m a little bit of a mama’s boy, too.”
Hollon still has more than a year-and-a-half of high school time remaining before he’ll move over to the UK campus. And, of course, there’s always a chance the 2013 MLB draft may have to be factored into any discussion regarding Hollon’s future.
For now, he can look forward to the spotlight shining on him and the scouts gathering around him at many more PG events. He wouldn’t miss the PG experience for the world.
“(The events are) a lot of help because they open my eyes to the fact that I’m not the only one who can do what I do. There are a lot of other kids out here who are just as good as me,” Hollon said. “It keeps me working hard and I just can’t say that I’m topped out and that I’m as good as I’m ever going to be.
“And then with all the scouts and everything, it’s always helpful to come out here and see them and get your name out there.”