LEXINGTON, Ky. - At this time just last year, Ohio Valley Showcase participant Jared Proctor was throwing 79-81 mph off the mound and just trying to impress any scouts that would give him the time of day. Now, Proctor has scouts begging for him to play at their schools.
Through a lot of hard work and repetition in the velocity program, Proctor was able to raise his velocity to 87 mph, impressive enough for the southpaw hurler to catch looks from multiple Division I schools.
“I've been doing the velocity program this past winter and I hit 87 mph at the (17u) WWBA (National Championship) down in Georgia, and then I hit it again the very next week, and then again the next week after that,” said Proctor. “I’m consistently mid to high 80s now. That velocity program, man, it’s the real deal.”
Proctor explained the velocity program is a personalized program that consists of balls of various weight (2-pound, 1-pound, 6-ounce, 5-ounce, 4-ounce, 2-once, and a sock) and the player does a certain number of holds and throws per ball depending on the program designed for the specific player.
Proctor, listed at 5-foot-10 155-pounds, knew he had good stuff on the mound, but if he wanted better looks he had to do something about his velocity. He knew he had to perform on and off the field to get to where he wanted.
“Jared is, first and foremost, an outstanding competitor. We refer to him as ‘Little Bulldog’ on the mound,” said Kentucky Baseball Club coach Kevin Clary. “He pitches much bigger than his frame. He really attacks hitters, has good command of three pitches, and he just goes out really hard.”
A member of the Kentucky Baseball Club, a well-known travel ball program, Proctor was a two-way player for the second team, which he recalled isn’t quite the same caliber as the first team.
“On the other team we’d be lucky to have one or two scouts from anywhere at our games. When we went down to Georgia for the WWBA, one of the games I pitched in there were about 30 scouts,” Proctor said.
Proctor performed well enough at the WWBA and other tournaments throughout the summer to earn him a spot on the first team. He continued to dominate on the first team and has solidified himself as a first team pitcher-only.
“He’s improved tremendously. He’s one of the hardest working young men I’ve had the pleasure of coaching in a long time,” said Clary.
“When I switched teams there would be eight to ten scouts there and it was a huge difference,” Proctor recalled. “When you’re playing with that type of caliber players, everybody wants to follow them and it’s a good opportunity.”
With his move to the first team came more looks, which turned into offers, which turned into the summer Proctor once only dreamed about.
“We took him with us to Indianapolis for the World Series and that’s when he was lights out in front of UK and Louisville,” Clary said.
“I’ve always dreamt of playing with (the University of) Kentucky or an SEC team, but I was hoping maybe a mid-major school,” said Proctor. “When I made the switch the doors just opened. It’s a big difference between a lefty throwing 87 mph and a righty throwing 87 mph. I hit 87 mph and that’s when it really opened up.”
Just last week, the lefty committed to play baseball for the University of Kentucky, an SEC school just down the street from Proctor.
“I couldn’t believe it for at least a good day and a half,” Proctor said. But the process was anything but stress-free.
“I didn’t realize how stressful the process is. Coaches were calling me all the time on the phone,” said Proctor. “It’s just crazy. When you’re pitching and you see five or six radar guns come up you’re like, ‘I gotta do it here’, but now that that’s over I could just pitch and have some fun.”
With a heavy weight lifted off Proctor’s shoulders this weekend at the Ohio Valley Showcase, Proctor can relax. He’s still here for a purpose though and didn’t hold back.
“It’s a great opportunity to see where you’re at as a player. You can see what your numbers are and see what you need to work on,” Proctor said. “You can never get your name out there far enough. You get out there as far as you can. I think those are some of the best things about a showcase.”
Proctor showed he is one of the best at this year’s Ohio Valley Showcase in Lexington, Ky., looking dominant on the mound with a lively fastball and sharp breaking ball. He kept hitters off-balance in his three innings of work.
The 2014 prospect will continue to work to build on his arsenal of pitches before he arrives on UK’s campus. Proctor hopes to make an impact on his team as soon as he gets there.