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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sharing the diamond with dad

Matt Rodriguez        
Photo: Perfect Game

MINNEAPOLIS – A kid with the athleticism and strength of a mythological Greek hero, Trenton Kemp can do it all. This time last year Kemp was looking to pursue a future in football. Now he finds himself at the Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome, staring down a career in professional baseball.

With an unusual make up for a baseball player, Kemp can bench press 305 pounds, possesses a 38-inch vertical jump, and can run a 6.46-second 60-yard dash. Those numbers do make him sound like one heck of a football player, but this kid can swing a bat too. A PG scouting report noted:

Trenton Kemp (Clovis, CA) took the best batting practice of the night, showing very quick hands with a simple hand path to the ball. Kemp generated some very good bat speed with an his easy swing, driving the ball throughout his session with one ball landing over the left field fence.”

Not impressed yet? Well then it should be noted that this spring was Kemp’s first season on the diamond since his freshman year.

It’s an incredible story that he didn’t play, didn’t play, didn’t play, and now he’s co-MVP of the Tri-River Athletic Conference,” said Kemp’s father, Joe, who also happens to be Kemp’s coach at Buchanan High School.

All Kemp wanted to do growing up was play football. Then he was hit with the injury bug in high school including a torn meniscus, a bone bruise that wouldn’t go away, and pulled hamstrings that kept him off the field for quite some time.

Kemp started to swing again in January and his dad saw something special. After no baseball activity for 15 months, Kemp’s swing was already impressive. Kemp admits it wasn’t a step-right-in-and-hit-a-homer kind of comeback.

The first time back during BP it was hard to pick up the ball again,” said Kemp. His dad set him up on the tee to work out the kinks and that’s when he knew his son should stick to baseball.

Kemp pulled off a feat equivalent to Paul Bunyan’s tales of strength.

He would hit over the center field hitting net off the tee at home plate,” said Kemp’s father. “That’s not normal.”

That’s when Joe, who played baseball at Arizona State and in the minor leagues, knew his son had to devote his time to baseball; no more football.

I said, ‘You’re gonna be playing baseball the rest of your life, why would you chance it in football?’”

Trenton Kemp had been recognized for football on the national level before this event performing on high levels there as well.

He already went to the (U.S. Army) National Combine in San Antonio,” said Kemp's father. “In San Antonio he ran a 4.48-second (40-yard dash), he benched 185 pounds 23 times. He wasn’t overmatched in the football combine and I knew he wouldn’t be overmatched here.”

That’s all in the past now though and Kemp is here to get recognized and what he can do nationally on the baseball diamond.

It’s a great experience,” Kemp said. “I’ve never really been to an event like this before for baseball.”

Kemp has been very impressionable here at PG National, putting up great numbers in front of scouts of the collegiate and professional ranks. He had the opportunity to show off his power in last night’s Rawlings Home Run Challenge and started his day off today with a double down the third base line.

I’m just out here trying to make a name for myself and do everything I can,” said Kemp of his experience.

"I knew what I had in January, so him being here right now is not a surprise to me,” added Kemp’s father. “I saw what he can do on the field and I told him, ‘As soon as you step on the field you’re gonna be a prospect just because of your size and strength and everything.’”

His father said a lot of Trenton’s athleticism is just a gift, but he works hard to turn that gift into something special on the baseball field. Kemp didn’t let his list of injuries keep him from pursuing his dream to be a professional athlete.

Now it’s full steam ahead for Kemp as he focuses on his baseball career and put the injuries behind him. Five months off the disabled list, Kemp is off to a great start to make his dream a reality.

And the Buchanan High School baseball coach finally got the player he wanted on his team for so long: his son.

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