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Showcase | Story | 12/28/2010

Another PG event for Crownover

Jeff Dahn        

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Just a little over a year ago, right around Christmas Day, 2009, Matthew Crownover made Chattanooga (Tenn.)-area high school sports history.

It was then when he accepted a baseball scholarship offer from Clemson University, the prestigious South Carolina school and national baseball power that is a member of the powerhouse Atlantic Coast Conference.

With the commitment, Crownover – now a junior at Ringold (Ga.) High School – became the the youngest athlete from a Chattanooga-area high school (Ringold is right across the Tennessee-Georgia border) to make an NCAA Division I commitment.

“Most people don’t understand in baseball there are only usually 11 scholarships per team, so getting a full scholarship is a big thing,” Crownover told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the day he made the commitment as a 16-year-old sophomore.

“I plan to stay humble and work on my game,” he said. “I want to become more comfortable with my secondary pitches and work on my velocity. It’s going to be fun, but I won’t stop working.”

A year after making that commitment, Crownover is still hard at it.

The 6-foot, 195-pound left-hander is arguably the most high-profile player at this week’s Perfect Game 2010 National Underclass Showcase-Main Event being held at Terry Park and the Red Sox 5-Plex Player Development Complex here. He is ranked as the 52nd top national prospect and the No. 3 Georgia state prospect (class of 2012) by Perfect Game.

With a college commitment already in hand, some may wonder why Crownover would travel from northeast Georgia to southwest Florida for yet another PG showcase. It is the 27th Perfect Game tournament or showcase he has attended since 2007.

“College-wise, I’ve already decided where I want to go, but pro draft-wise, they still get to see you,” Crownover said on the chilly opening morning (Tuesday, Dec. 28) of the National Underclass. “You’ve got to be very fortunate to catch those guy’s eyes, but it helps you to keep on developing your skills and be ready for the upcoming seasons.”

Crownover pitched the first three innings for the PG Texas Orange team at the National Underclass early Tuesday afternoon and allowed only one hit while facing 10 batters with seven strikeouts and no walks. His fastball topped out at 87 mph.

At the 2010 Junior National Showcase held in June at Tropicana Field in Tampa, a Perfect Game scout made these observations about Crownover:

“(Crownover) hides the ball well, deceptive, spots fastball well to low corners, curveball has good depth, throws strikes, flashed a very good change, really knows how to pitch, gets outs. LHP to watch closely.”

Crownover is joined here this week by several of his teammates from the East Cobb (Ga.) travel teams he played with over the summer and through the fall. The familiarity helps everyone.

 “Every year, Guerry and Kevin – Coach Baldwins – we all go together as a team down these things and try to keep the team unity as close as we can,” Crownover said. “I like the Perfect Game stuff with a team benefit the most, but these (the showcases) are also beneficial for yourself as individuals. They help you get seen and (Perfect Gameis) a great organization.”

With his college decision out of the way, Crownover can concentrate only on baseball and his class work (he owns a 3.98 GPA). Concetrating just on baseball required some sacrifice, however.

 “This was my first year not playing football, so it was a tough year,” Crownover said. “But I’m getting ready for the (baseball) season to start and I’m getting anxious.”

He has two more high school seasons remaining to impress the citizenry of greater-Chattanooga.

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