Tournaments | Story | 12/6/2019

Power Surge Earned Stamps MVPs

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Ethan Stamps (Perfect Game)

Ethan Stamps has played in Jupiter at the WWBA World Championship three times, from his first in 2017 to his final one this past fall.

He knows the routine at this point. Show up, have a hard time weaving your way through the thousands of golf carts filled with scouts on your way to the field you’re on, and try to have your play stand out among the best high school players out there.

It’s a lot to take on. But if you embrace it, Stamps said, it can be pretty enjoyable.

“That tournament is always fun. I’ve played in it three times,” he said. “You know you’re playing with the best kids in the country and the world. There are kids from everywhere. It’s a lot of competition, it’s always high-energy. It’s fun to be around all those scouts because you know you got to play your best. People probably get nervous or think they should be nervous, but you’re just playing baseball, so you just got to stick with it and do the best you can.”

Stamps, a 2020 prospect committed to play his college ball at Lipscomb for Head Coach Jeff Forehand and his staff, took that mindset to every Perfect Game tournament he played in, which became quite a long list over the years.

This past summer alone, Stamps was named Most Valuable Player three different times – in three consecutive weekends, in fact.

At the WWBA 18U National Championship in mid-June, Stamps hit .400 across 30 plate appearances, including four home runs and 14 RBI. He also tossed two innings of scoreless ball with two strikeouts.

It was more of the same at the WWBA 17U National Championship Qualifier the weekend before, as he hit .381 in 21 at-bats with four extra-base hits and seven RBI. On the mound, he tossed seven innings of one-run ball while striking out seven.

And the streak started at the 17U Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational, where Stamps hit a video game-like .643 in 14 at-bats, with three doubles and five RBI.

“I got really hot and I knew I was competing against some really good players,” Stamps said of his three consecutive MVPs. “At one of those big tournaments, I knew I had to step it up a little bit, and I did. I hit a lot leading up to those events and felt good going in, and I hit well there. So it was good. It all worked out.”

Stamps’ power has been noted for some time now by Perfect Game scouts. At the 2018 National Underclass Showcase, part of Stamps’ scouting report read, “attacks the ball hard and has present bat speed, doesn’t get cheated at the plate, power approach with the strength and bat speed to back it up.”

He credits some of that power to a leg kick he started using in seventh grade.

Josh Donaldson is the Big Leaguer that Stamps tries to model his game after, and Donaldson might have the most well-recognized and exaggerated leg kick in the game.

“I like his swing,” Stamps said of Donaldson. “He does that leg-kick like I do, and he uses his hands a lot when he hits.”

Hitting a baseball requires some of the most precise timing in all of sports. Incorporating a leg kick can mess all of that timing up, and it takes thousands and thousands of repetitions to create a sense of normalcy with it.

But if it feels right and a player gets comfortable, it can have major dividends. Clearly, it has worked for Stamps. But not before plenty of work behind the scenes.

“It took a while to get used to a leg kick, because the timing of it and knowing when to get your leg down and staying balanced through it,” he said. “It took a good while to get used to it, it wasn’t until high school that I really got comfortable with it. It generates a lot more power, because your whole weight is moving toward the baseball. But it can hurt you too, if you’re way too far out front and you’re early on everything.”

It is safe to say he found the balance this summer. Including the three tournaments in which he was named to the All-Tournament team on top of being named MVP. Stamps was honored with an All-Tournament nod nine times this summer, from the 18U Southeast Memorial Day Classic in May to the WWBA National Qualifier in September, where he had four hits in two games.

Stamps said he was humbled by the MVP awards he won in the middle of the summer. He didn’t go to tournaments expecting to be the best player in attendance.

He did expect to show up to each tournament with enough preparation under his belt to put himself among the best players there, however. For him, then, All-Tournament teams were the floor, not the ceiling.

“I wouldn’t say I ever get used to winning awards,” he said. “But being on those All-Tournaments teams, I feel like that’s what you need to be on at those tournaments. I need me to be on there. So I work to make sure I’m on there. I just compete to the best of my ability and somehow it all works out.”

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