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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Llewellyn just wants to play ball

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Phildrick Llewellyn seemed antsy and in a bit of a rush while good-naturedly badgering a Perfect Game official to get him into a game lineup before the start of play Sunday, Jan. 8, at the 2012 Perfect Game World Showcase.

The prestigious World Showcase opened on Saturday, Jan. 7, but Llewellyn wasn’t able to get here until late Saturday night and couldn’t get to Terry Park until Sunday morning.

A native of the Caribbean island Curacao and a senior at Trinity Christian Academy in Boynton Beach, Fla., who is one of the country’s top 2012 catching prospects, Llewellyn arrived at Terry Park early on Jan. 8, worked quickly through his Pop Time workout and a solid batting practice session, and was eager to get into a game.

“Aren’t you tired?” the PG official asked an obviously excited Llewellyn.

“I’m not tired,” he quickly responded. “I just want to play baseball.”

Llewellyn flew into the U.S. mainland from his native Curacao on the morning of Jan. 7 to attend a New York Mets-sponsored showcase event that day in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. That showcase finished up at about 6 p.m. (ET), and Llewellyn and some family members made the three hour drive across the Florida peninsula – from the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast – and arrived here at about 9:30 p.m.

He signed-in for the World Showcase at his hotel that night and was at Terry Park by 8 a.m. on Jan. 8.

“It’s been really busy but it’s been real cool, though,” Llewellyn said after catching and batting several times during the 10 inning game he played in the morning of the 8th. “It was real pleasant doing all this and I liked it a lot.”

He does, after all, just “want to play baseball.”

Llewellyn is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound switch-hitter with good speed and sound catching instincts. He recorded a Pop Time of 1.85 seconds at the Perfect Game National Showcase last June, and improved that with a 1.83, at the World Showcase, eighth best among a large and strong crop of catchers.

“I came in and I was mentally prepared,” he said. “Since I didn’t get much rest I had to make sure I was prepared.”

After his performance at the World Showcase, PG National Director of Scouting David Rawnsley filed the following report:

“Llewellyn has somehow flown under the radar somewhat despite being a legit switch-hitting catcher with sub 7.0 speed who graded out as a 10 at the PG National and was even better in Fort Myers. He could be a big sleeper this spring as scouts get to appreciate his tools better.”

Llewellyn also participated in the 2010 PG Sunshine East Showcase and has played in eight PG WWBA tournaments and one PG BCS Finals since 2009. He’s played in the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., three times, including this past October for the Red Sox Scout Team/Elite Squad. That team’s extensive roster included 24 players with NCAA Division I commitments.

He played last summer with the South Florida Elite Black in both the 2011 PG WWBA 2012 Grads or 17u National Championship and the 2011 PG 17u BCS Finals. That powerhouse squad included highly ranked prospects like outfielder Lewis Brinson (2012, Tamarac, Fla.), right-hander Hayden Hurst (2012, Jacksonville, Fla.) and catcher Christopher Chinea (2012, Miami, Fla.).

Llewellyn rose to No. 109 in the most recent PG national rankings after his performance at the World Showcase and is ranked No. 11 among all the 2012 catching prospects.

“This is my third year now with Perfect Game and it doesn’t get old because every year you can better yourself,” he said. “Every year you can come and get your Pop Time better and your 60 time better and your batting practice better. There is everything you can improve on – you can never be too good, you can always improve.”

And it can never hurt to take advantage of an opportunity to get back out in front of the scouting community.

“I know that Perfect Game is really good and really (respected) among the scouts and they’ll get you seen by everybody else,” Llewellyn said. “This morning (Jan. 8), as you could see, there were many scouts looking at my batting practice and my Pop Time and also the game, so this is an important showcase to me personally because it gets me noticed by all the scouts.”

Llewellyn has signed a national letter of intent with Florida International University in Miami, and is part of an FIU recruiting class ranked 18th in the country. He was impressive during an on-campus showcase event he attended there as a 15-year-old high school sophomore, and head coach Turtle Thomas extended an offer as soon as he was allowed to.

“I hit seven home runs from both sides and I threw a 1.85 (Pop) and I basically caught FIU’s eye,” Llewellyn said. “As soon as they could legally talk to me, they gave the offer.”

He plans on continuing to catch at whatever level he plays at after high school; he also listed as a middle-infielder on his PG Player Profile.

“I can basically play at positions but I see myself as a catcher because that’s my favorite position and that’s what I’ve specialized in,” Llewellyn said. “But if there’s a necessity to play anywhere else, I can definitely do that.”

Llewellyn will be tracking the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft when it commences June 4, but he’s quick to point out he’s put himself in a position where he really can’t lose.

“The draft is always there, but like I told my parents it’s a win-win situation,” he said. “I already have a college and I’ve already signed but if I get drafted high and I get a good offer, and me and my family consider it, then I’ll take it – otherwise I can just go to college. I’m not going to stress on it because it’s a win-win situation.”

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