After the conclusion of last summer’s Perfect Game South Top Prospect Games at Texas A&M in College Station, the PG scout charged with writing the scouting report on big Midland, Texas, 2022 right-hander Chase Shores was not lacking for material – or superlatives.
The scout waxed almost poetically about Shore’s “big, bright future on the mound” while calling the 16-year-old “Division-I ready” and noting that “his presence alone has to be intimidating to any hitter” and that “at-bats against Chase cannot be too comfortable.”
But the writer may have summed up his impressions best with a statement that came relatively early in the report: “Chase is a true Texas right-handed power pitcher...(who) pitches with poise, purpose and a plan.” Amen to that, brother.
Chase Shores is, indeed, a stereotypical tall Texan with a mid-90s fastball whose tenacity on the mound is rivaled only by what appears to be an easy going manner off the field. Very athletic at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Shores is winding down his junior year at Lee High School in the West Texas oil town of Midland determined to finish his high school season on a high note before embarking on what he hopes is a very productive summer of play.
“I think I’ll only continue to get better and prove myself to everybody,” the affable Shores told PG during a mid-week telephone conversation. “Right now I’m focused on getting better, getting stronger and just going out there and doing good this summer.”
And why not? The son of Bryan and Nicole Shores – he works in the oil and gas business; she is a massage therapist – Chase Shores has climbed to No. 32 overall in PG’s class of 2022 national prospect rankings; he is ranked the No. 8 right-handed pitcher (Nos. 2/1 in Texas).
Those rankings are almost a revelation considering where he was at not all that long ago. Shores was considered a solid top-500 prospect in the summer of 2019 but was just starting to come into his own. He began to find himself in the fall of 2019 and the summer of 2020 while playing in high-level PG WWBA tournaments with Ray DeLeon and the Tomball-based Banditos program and excelling at a pair of PG showcases.
There’s no denying that West Texas is about as remote a location as one can find, and finding high-level competition usually requires some pretty long road trips. It’s a five hour drive to Austin, Dallas and San Antonio and 7 1/2 hours over to Houston. College Station is 6 1/2 hours, but that is a trip the Shores have made a couple of times just to get over to the PG South Top Prospect Games at Texas A&M.
“We knew that he was definitely good enough to compete in this area to compete so that’s why we jumped into the Perfect Game showcases,” Bryan Shores told PG. “How does he stack-up at these showcases and can we get more looks and get to that bigger stage? He loves it more than anything and so it’s easy as a family to support him and put him the right situation where he can excel and compete against the top talent.
“Our main thing right now is the PG National,” he added, speaking of the summer ahead and the prestigious PG National Showcase. “His goal is the PG National and then hoping for an opportunity to (attend) the All-American (Classic).”
An item of interest that most jumps off the page with Shores is a huge jump in his fastball velocity that took place from late September 2019 through early October 2020 while performing at two distinctly different PG events.
At the 2019 PG South Top Prospect Games at Texas A&M Sept. 28-29, his fastball topped out at 83 mph. A year later, at the 2020 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers, Fla., while playing with the Banditos Scout Team 2022/23, Shores fired his heater across the plate at a streaking 95 mph, leaving dozens of scouts in attendance nearly slack-jawed.
The remarkable uptick in his fastball velocity may have appeared to come about overnight, but that wasn’t the case. Chase and Bryan have never employed a pitching coach and both son and father attribute the increase to just getting bigger and stronger as Chase matures. It’s been proven time and again that spending a little extra time in the weight room can pay handsome dividends.
“But even before the summer when Covid happened, that’s when I told myself that I really had to get going and catch up to all of these top 2022 prospects,” Shores said, referring to the shutdown brought on by the pandemic. “It kind of gave me some time to focus on my body and just grind that summer; just go out and show out...
“I think most of it, it’s just God-given,” he added. “I picked things up by watching MLB games but I think my dad has helped me just to critique my form and get me ready.” (Bryan Shores played college baseball at the JUCO and NCAA D-II levels).
Chase Shores got his start in the game early. The Shores have another son, Nicolas, who is almost five years older than Chase and whenever Nicolas was playing in a kids league game of some sort, Chase eagerly jumped into the fray with the older guys.
He has always been a bit of a bigger kid for his age, and Bryan remembers his youngest son always finding a way to be out on the field with the older boys; things kind of picked up steam from there.
Chase played football and baseball through his middle school years, and because of his height the first question he often gets from people is if he plays basketball. He seemed to enjoy football, especially, but Texas high schools can have spring football workouts so that began to conflict with baseball.
“It’s always been a natural love of his to play baseball, and not just the games but the practices; he truly loves practice and would do it every day,” Bryan said. “So from an early age he was always on the baseball field either with (kids) his age or with his older brother. He just wanted to be out there and play...He’s never been that kid that’s big and clumsy. He works a lot on his footwork and for his size has always been very athletic.”
The younger Shores tends to agree with his dad: “I grew up playing basketball and football and I think that actually helped me,” Chase said. “For being 6-8, I think I’m a pretty athletic kid – I can move really well – and I kind of owe that to basketball and football for just making me more athletic. But once freshman year hit, I decided to baseball-only so I can focus on that during my high school years.”
Bryan Shores described his son as a fierce competitor on the field, a prospect that plays with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. Off the field, his dad said, Chase is just a fun-loving kid – even “kind of goofy” at times – who can get along with anyone in just about any circumstance.
Those personality traits should suit Shores well as he moves into adulthood and continues to grow as both a person and a ballplayer. The experiences he’s already enjoyed on some of PG’s biggest stages while being surrounded with other like-minded elite athletes have laid a solid foundation, with more to come.
“He doesn’t stress; he takes the game in stride,” Bryan said. “To see him at the showcases and this past fall at the (other) events, we’ve seen him come into his own being around that top talent. He takes the attitude and the approach that he does belong there and he’s always looking to compete against that top talent; it’s enjoyable to watch.”
The baseball-only route is already paying dividends, as the commitment to Oklahoma State attests. That’s something that has the entire Shores family excited, just knowing that Chase may someday be part of a program that is headed by Josh Holliday (the older brother of former big league All-Star Matt Holliday, who volunteers with the program).
Depending on what happens in the 2022 MLB Amateur Draft, of course, Shores will be part of a ’22 Cowboys recruiting class with nine other top-500 prospects, including left-hander Trenton Shaw (No. 36), shortstop Jackson Holliday, Matt’s son (No. 37), right-hander Luke Fernandez (No. 202), left-hander Brennan Phillips (No. 212) and righty Manning West (No. 284).
“We had a couple of phone calls when they were recruiting me and just based on those phone calls, you could tell that Oklahoma State was the place for me,” said Shores, who went through his recruitment during the Covid shutdown. “They made me feel wanted and they showed me the most interest out of all the schools I was talking to.
“You look at that coaching staff and it’s probably the greatest coaching staff in America,” he added. “And have you seen that new field? Once I saw that stadium it was a no-brainer that Oklahoma State was the place for me.” (OSU recently opened a new $60 million, state-of-the-art O’Brate Stadium).
His dad agreed: “For his dreams to come true and for a program like Oklahoma State to want him, for my wife and I that was an unbelievable experience,” Bryan said. “We’re super excited for him to have that opportunity.”
Shores’ Lee High School team began outdoor practices and scrimmages in early February and the Rebels are already nearly 20 games into their season, sporting a 14-3 record at mid-week. Play in Class 6A Region I District 2 wraps up at the end of the month and the state playoffs ratchet up the first week of May.
Once the high school season is in the books, Chase Shores will be all-in with a summer season that promises to be both busy and important from the standpoint of leaving a good impression with the MLB scouting community.
His PG Player Profile page already shows that he is rostered at six WWBA events with the Oklahoma-based Sandlot Scout Team 2022 and the Florida-based Scorpions/Giants Scout Team 2022, but none of those are confirmed. During this week’s telephone conversation, it sounded very much like Shores is looking forward to a continuing relationship with the Banditos.
“A bunch of my good friends live in Houston and play for the Banditos,” he said. “I am kind of secluded because I live in West Texas and there’s not a whole lot of great prospects out here but once you get out to Houston or Dallas, those areas, you can meet a couple of good guys and build lifelong friendships...There’s just some really great guys on the Banditos.”
There is, in fact, only one event that Shores has committed to and it’s the most important of all. Magical things have been known to happen on this stage, which in July will be sitting under the domed roof of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Going into the summer, obviously you’ve got to think about that PG National Showcase,” Chase said. “I plan on going to that and hopefully getting an invite to the PG All-American [Classic]. I think that would be pretty cool playing on TV in front of tons of scouts. Just getting myself in position to get in front of scouts and show my abilities, that would be awesome this summer.”
A lot has happened to this “true Texas right-handed power pitcher” over the last 12 months, the big kid from the West Texas oil fields who has a knack for creating some really uncomfortable at-bats for opposing hitters.
While the increased fastball velo may seem a bit meteoric, Chase Shores also has effective breaking pitches that he’s taken the time to develop in recent years. He also plays some first base these days, but his future is definitely on the mound where, as the PG scout noted with apt alliteration, “he pitches with poise, purpose and a plan.”
“He’s always had such a natural throwing motion and he’s such a natural athlete, we’ve just kind of let him do his thing,” Bryan Shores said. “Once he stopped the football and really got into the true baseball workouts, he was working with a trainer here in Midland that is a baseball guy; he really took to it and he’s still dedicated to it.”