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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Brent Warren PLAY BALL!!!

Perfect Game Staff        
Cedar Rapids,. IA - This is what was posted as Perfect Game honored Brent Warren on this past December. This release was attached to Brent Warren’s co #1 ranking as Perfect Game staff members were saddened by the news of his serious condition.

#1 Brent Warren - 2008 - OF LHP/1B - 6'3 175 - Xavier HS - Robins, IA
Sorry to report a genetic heart problem has ended the promising career of Brent Warren. We left him (ranked as an additional #1 in his class) temporarily because he was one of the nation's top prospects as both a LHP and an OF.

Brent has grown up with Perfect Game and we wanted to take this opportunity to honor an outstanding baseball player and an even better young man. So for the first time since Lastings Milledge and Delmon Young were high school sophomores PG has released co #1 ranked players.

Brent Warren has always been ranked highly because of his lean athletic body and his great tools. We hate to throw out those “5 tool” comments very often, but Brent was a true 5 tool talent. He also threw high 80s left handed from the mound.

We compared him very closely to another player that grew up at Perfect Game, Ryan Sweeney. At the same age they were very close in ability except Brent was a better runner. His 6.5, 60 yard times were a bit better than Sweeney ran at the same age. Sweeney (21 years old) finished last season in the Major Leagues with the White Sox and is ranked their #1 prospect.

Sweeney and Warren both went to the same high school in Cedar Rapids, IA. Brent Warren accomplished something that Ryan Sweeney didn’t, when he led the Xavier high school team in winning the Iowa State Championship last year as a sophomore.

Brent will be undergoing open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic about the same time these rankings are released. He was born with the heart problem and it can be repaired. The danger involving playing athletics will end his playing days, but this kid is special far beyond his immense athletic ability and he will be very successful in life.

We at PG plan to do all we can to help that happen! It won’t be easy for Brent. He has given baseball all he has without seeing the opportunity to realize his dreams; However, they will be replaced with new dreams and who knows, they might still involve baseball somehow. Brent is an outstanding student.

Our lives are dominated by the game of baseball. This is just one more unpleasant reminder that there are more important things in life than baseball. Life itself for one!

Well that was more than three months ago and much has changed since then. First of all the surgery was a huge success. Then just last week came some bad news along with some very good news.

The bad news first… Brent Warren will probably be moving from the co #1 spot in the pgcrosschecker 08 rankings.

The good news, in fact, Great News!… His doctor has cleared him to start playing baseball again. This is unbelievably great news. News that is as good as it gets.

Brent will be taking it somewhat easy as he works at getting back into playing condition. His father, Chris, is concerned with Brent’s arm and legs being in shape. What a difference from a few months ago when open heart surgery was performed at the Mayo Clinic and it appeared that Brent would no longer be able to play baseball.

Warren has been involved with Perfect Game since he was 8 years old. His dad would bring him into the PG Indoor facility nearly every night. Chris Warren wanted his son to have every possible chance to enjoy the game that both of them loved so much. Chris, a former college baseball star, never pushed, but he was always right there with Brent, even in the beginning when Brent was taking lessons from Perfect Game instructors. Chris never wavered, he was there for his son every step of the way, whether it was baseball or life and death open heart surgery. Never pushy, always supportive, it was not a baseball thing for Chris, it was all about being with and supporting his son.

“It was obvious that Brent had some talent at a young age”, said PG’s Jerry Ford. “However, there are a lot of young kids you think are going to be good and things just don’t work out that way. Brent seemed to have a much different attitude than most his age. Usually kids at that age are good for about 5 minutes of concentration, but Brent was listening intently and really wanted to work hard for as long as someone was willing to work with him. I wasn’t sure how good he would end up being, but I sure was impressed by how this young boy went about things.”

Then as time went on Brent Warren started to grow in size and athletic ability right in front of the eyes of many Perfect Game scouts. Jim Arp (PG Scouting Coordinator) helped coach the Xavier high school team that had produced Ryan Sweeney (White Sox), Zach Shreiber (Braves), and several other DI players. “I am employed by PG, Jim said, but they are real good about allowing us to donate our time to help others. My son played at Xavier so that is how I got involved. Now I do it just to help out and I really enjoy it. It’s the kids like Brent that make it all worthwhile. He truly is one in a million!”

By the time Warren was 15 he was one of the better high school talents in the PG Scout Leagues. At age 16 he led his Xavier High School team to a State title, all the while attending Perfect Game events in Iowa, Florida, and California. Everywhere he went, scouts got a chance to see a very talented prospect who not only had present tools, but his projection was off the charts. Roy Clark (Scouting Director Atlanta Braves) said it best, last year in Jupiter, Florida, at the WWBA Championship. “I just love the way that kid plays the game, why can’t everybody enjoy it that much?” Clark didn’t realize at that time that he was watching what could have been Brent Warren’s final baseball game.

“Once it seemed certain that Brent would no longer be able to play, his father called me asking for a favor”, said Ford. “He asked me if I’d be willing to help Brent get involved in baseball in some other way, since he couldn’t play anymore. Brent Warren, despite this huge disappointment, still wanted to find a way to be involved in baseball. His dad thought maybe he could learn how to scout, or coach younger kids, anything that would keep him involved in baseball. That was what Brent wanted. Baseball meant much more to him than just glory and honors. He truly loves the game! That’s something a bit unusual in this day and age.”

To show how much Brent Warren loves the game, even while waiting to find out if he would ever be allowed to play again, he was out coaching the bases this spring in the PG Scout League. Now through the blessing of god and modern medicine, Brent Warren might soon be back in action.

Well since Brent was told the good news by his doctor, it’s a brand new beginning. The pressure of the game should be much easier to deal with. He is in a hurry to get back on the field. Luckily he has great parents to watch over him and make sure he is physically ready. His father Chris, who won’t push but will always give support.

Everyone will be pulling for Brent Warren to return to his rightful status of one of the top prospects in his class. Though Brent has never been to any other event other than Perfect Game, he’s hoping that changes this year. He plans to attend the PG National Showcase in Cincinnati this coming June and then the Area Codes in August. He also hopes he can return to his old form and have a chance to reach one of his major goals of being selected an Aflac All American.

The following was written by Brent Warren’s dad Chris

It seemed that Brent was born with a baseball in his hand. Though it was the wrong hand. When he first started tossing the ball around the house he used his right hand. That was quickly resolved, as he was taught to throw with the left hand and hit left handed. He eats with his right hand, writes with his right hand and kicks with his right foot. By the way I’ve been called the bad Dad for doing that.

We moved to Cedar Rapids in 1998, Brent was 8 years old at the time. We were told there was this training place called Perfect Game and at the time that’s all I thought it was. I took Brent for a visit and he immediately became addicted to the place. He was 8 years old in a place with lots of baseballs and unlimited swings to smack that ball all over the place. As time went on, the Perfect Game staff began to see this kid in and out of their front door all the time. It wasn’t till he was about 12 years old that Jerry Ford came in one day to introduce himself and watch Brent for a bit. At the time Jerry Ford was giving lessons, one thing led to another and before Brent knew it he was being taught how to pitch. Pretty soon Jerry Ford became too busy and passed the lessons on to his son Ben. Ben Ford pitched in the Major Leagues for the Diamondbacks, Yankees and Brewers) Brent had many lessons with Ben. To this day Brent credits those lessons to his pitching success he has had to this point. In the midst of all that Tyson Kimm became interested in Brent and his swing. Brent was taking BP one day when Tyson came by and tossed out a few pointers…then a few more….then a few more……Tyson’s approach to hitting and the game in general have rubbed off on Brent. Tyson’s one comment about Brent has always been “Brent will always be his own worst enemy because of how hard he is on himself”, “he has to learn that the game of baseball is a game of failure and you have to deal with it in a positive way or it will eat you up”. That has always stuck with me to help teach Brent.

Through the years Brent has contributed too many extra miles on the cars with his requests to go hit and throw at Perfect Game. When he turned 15 things got even crazier with the acquiring of the drivers license. I’m not quite sure what he has done all those times but every afternoon for last 2 years he hops in the old Buick and cruises to Perfect Game for a work out with his high school teammates. I know that there are many words here but in short…..Perfect Game and it’s love for the kids has instilled a passion for the game of baseball in Brent second to none. That passion has created sleepless nights for me and many evenings of great sleep for Brent’s mother. After a game where Brent thinks he’s had a few bad at bats, he will wake me up, sometimes as late as 10:30 pm to go hit in the basement. We’ll do tee work, soft toss and front toss until Brent feels the mechanics are back. With the batting cage below our bedroom it was those cracks of the bats that put mom to sleep, she knew her son was doing what he loved to do…..hit!!!

All that hard work, dedication and passion allowed Brent to showcase that passion at Perfect Game events where he’s played not only in Iowa, but places like California and Florida. If it weren’t for Perfect Game I truly believe that Brent wouldn’t have the opportunities he has in front of him today. We walked into Perfect Game together one day last fall and laying on the table were pictures of AFLAC All Americans, and posters of Roger Clemens, Dennis Martinez, Scott Kazmir, Carl Crawford, Brian McCann, Lastings Milledge, Justin and BJ Upton, Delmon Young, Ben Ford, Ryan Sweeney, Ron Gardenhire, Wade Boggs, Prince Fielder, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Zach Greinke and many others, all wearing Perfect Game jerseys…………Brent said,”I’ll be joining that group some day!!!!

Jerry Ford once told me about how there are so many real nice people in baseball, but this whole thing was an eye opener. First of all the recruiting interest before the heart problem was discovered, was great. Then what happened once people found out about his condition, was amazing. We received calls from coaches all over the country, some of the very top programs, who were recruiting him offering their sincere wishes and leaving absolutely no doubt that they cared despite thinking he would never play again. Major League Scouting Departments offering to help Brent in any way possible. Perfect Game people standing beside him all the way, whether he could ever play again or not. And so many others that Brent had played with and against over the years. Even people we’ve never met or talked to showed their support. Baseball has been wonderful, there really are some of the best people I’ve ever known involved in baseball. We are so very thankful!

As a parent, the Perfect Game staff provided support through the tough times that were presented to Brent. Their prayers and concerns for Brent as the person and not the player were especially important to me and Brent’s mother. God has given Brent another chance to achieve his goals in the “GAME” of baseball and Perfect Game will help him achieve those goals. My wife and I truly believe that.

It won’t be long now for Brent Warren to do what he loves once again… Play Ball!
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