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All American Game | Story | 8/8/2011

Dahl battles back, Classic next

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game USA

The nation’s best baseball players love nothing better than to surround themselves with other outstanding ballplayers. This weekend in San Diego, top outfield prospect David Dahl will be given that opportunity.

Dahl, who will be a senior this fall at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala., will be in San Diego from Thursday through Sunday with 45 other top prospects in the class of 2012 to take part in the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings.

 “I love going down there and meeting everybody, and I know most of them through all the other stuff I’ve done, but I look forward to seeing everyone again,” Dahl said in a telephone conversation Sunday from his home in Birmingham. “It is exciting, being with all the good players who will be there.”

Dahl is ranked the No. 13 top prospect overall and No. 3 outfield prospect in the country. He is one of three Alabama prospects on the All-American Classic East Team roster, joining right-hander/outfielder Jameis Winston from Hueytown and right-hander Tucker Simpson from Oxford.

“It’s a great honor to be selected,” Dahl said. “Seeing all the past players that have played there and seeing all the great players who will be there (this weekend), I’m really excited to go out there and try to my best.”

Dahl, a 6-2, 185-pounder who bats from the left side but is a right-handed thrower, has had an eventful summer, and not necessarily in a good way. Just as his summer season was hitting full-stride, he was diagnosed with mononucleosis.

He said he started getting headaches and felt like he was tiring easily while attending the Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., in mid-June. From Fort Myers, Dahl traveled to Cary, N.C., to take part in the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars trials, but that’s when the mono really nailed him. He was able to stay for only five days of the two week event.

After being sidelined the entire month of July, Dahl took part in last week’s East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., and showed he was starting to bounce back from the illness.

“I felt pretty good about how I played there,” Dahl said. “For coming off mono, I thought I did really good.

“I think I’m getting close,” he said of his recovery. “I was probably about 80 percent (in Lakeland) and I got tired pretty easily, but I’m getting better every day, I guess. I’m feeling a lot better now.”

Perfect Game national scouting director David Rawnsley identified Dahl as the No. 2 top position prospect at the event, and concluded he is “a solid defensive player with advanced, aggressive offensive tools” who used his speed and strong arm to patrol the outfield effectively.

“On offense,” Rawnsley reported, “Dahl hits with a sound, balanced stance. His quick and short hand path creates good bat speed while a level swing plane allows him to deliver line drives to the gaps.”

In an interview with the Birmingham News for a story published Aug. 2, Brian Breeze, Dahl’s coach at Oak Mountain, said Dahl has been put in a terrific position by being selected to play in the PG All-American Classic presented by Rawlings. Dahl has also played in seven PG WWBA tournaments and two PG-East Cobb Invitationals since 2008, in addition to this summer’s PG National Showcase.

“I think these things are going to give him an opportunity where pro scouts are able to see him. I think it will truly help him in the draft,” Breeze told News reporter Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

“I think that David is a very talented player,” Breeze continued. “First round? I don’t know. I think it’s a possibility he could be a high draft pick. I think that’s a very good possibility for him. He’s a five-tool athlete (and) he can do a lot of things.”

For his part, Dahl is more focused on his final season of high school baseball than he is on the draft.

“I really want to go out and have a good senior year and have as much fun as possible,” he said. “I’m really excited for the high school baseball season to start. I don’t really think about (the draft) much. It’s too far away.”

Dahl carries a 3.4 GPA and has verbally committed to play collegiately for head coach John Pawlowski at Auburn University, just more than a two-hour drive from his home in Birmingham.

“I’ve grown up an Auburn fan, my family is Auburn fans, and I’ve always gone to football and baseball games there,” Dahl said. “The coaches there are great, and they have a plan and they’re putting that plan in place.”

Before his final high school season, before the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft and before enrolling at Auburn, Dahl will be making the trip to San Diego. In addition to the game itself – to be played Sunday at 5 p.m. (PDT) at PETCO Park and televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network – the players will visit Rady Children’s Hospital and the Miramar Marine Base in San Diego.

“I look forward to that a lot, and I’ve heard a lot about that,” Dahl said. “It sounds very exciting and eye-opening, being able to go to all those places.”

The game itself, of course, will also be a point of interest.

“I’m just going to try to go out there and have as much fun as I can,” Dahl said. “If I play good, I’ll be very happy, and if I don’t I know it will be against the best players in the country, so there’s nothing to be worried about.”

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