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Tournaments  | Story  | 9/14/2013

Different uniform, same talent

Jeff Dahn     
Photo: Perfect Game

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – It probably looked odd to many observers in attendance at the Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championship (Underclass) tournament Friday and Saturday to watch Dazmon Cameron working his on-field magic in a uniform that didn’t say “ECB” or “Astros” across the front.

Cameron’s participation at the 64-team event wearing a SACSN National Team uniform wasn’t a defection from his beloved East Cobb Baseball heritage but a certification of his standing as the top national prospect in the high school class of 2015.

To say he has come a long way from his introduction to the college and professional scouting communities with his June 2011 debut at the 14u/15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational in Marietta, Ga., as 14 year old to where is today wouldn’t be totally accurate.

A resident of McDonough, Ga. – the hometown of Atlanta Braves outfielder and decorated PG alumnus Jason Heyward – and the son of former big-leaguer Mike Cameron, Daz was already pretty well known around north Georgia by the time of his Perfect Game debut with the East Cobb Astros 14u.

He has since risen to No. 1 in PG’s national prospect rankings (class of 2015) and this weekend is one of the leaders on the SACSN National Team, an all-star team considered a favorite to claim the title at the PG/EvoShield National Championship (Underclass).

Cameron’s progression has been steady, sure and really not that surprising, especially, perhaps, to himself.

“You’ve got to pleased with your progression; you’ve got no choice but to be pleased in this game,” he said Saturday morning from the dugout at one of the Cincinnati Reds’ spring training practice fields at the Goodyear Ballpark Complex. “I go out there and try to play my best every time I’m out on the field.”

One of the observers Saturday morning was Daz’s dad, Mike Cameron, a veteran of 17 major league seasons with eight big-league clubs who only retired after the 2011 season at the age of 38. Mike was named to one All-Star Game and won three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards during his long career and is one of only three players to have hit 100 home runs and stole 100 bases in both the American and National Leagues.

Some of his most gratifying moments, however, have come watching his son develop into a prospect most consider a sure-fire, early first-round selection in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

“It’s been good to see him start to excel in some areas,” Mike said Saturday. “He’s starting to put himself in pretty good position player-wise moving into this senior season, and that’s always a good sign. Probably the biggest thing is that he’s continuing to progress and he’s continued to learn more and more about himself every day.”

Daz Cameron is a junior at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, a south Atlanta suburb. He led the Chargers to the Georgia Class A private school state championship in the spring after hitting .434 in 106 at-bats with 49 runs scored, 28 RBI, seven home runs and only nine strikeouts.

He played in six PG WWBA and PG BCS national tournaments with the East Cobb Astros and ECB founder and Astros head coach Guerry Baldwin this summer, and further established himself as the top national prospect in his class.

 “I feel like I had a pretty good summer,” Daz said. “East Cobb is a great program, just a great program to be in. And I don’t think I’m leaving there anytime soon.”

Mike Cameron fully acknowledges the benefits his son has received from his association with ECB and participation in PG events.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Mike said. “It’s basically been the transformation of his growth by being challenged at such a young age of 14. Now he’s been able to move on from that and is starting to excel even better. His best gift was being able to make that jump at 14 to Guerry Baldwin’s 16 year old team; that really helped him excel just that much more.”

Daz Cameron attended 24 Perfect Game events before this one – 21 PG WWBA and PG BCS Finals with the ECB Astros and three PG showcase events. His most recent showcase experience was at the 2012 PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event in Fort Myers, Fla., in late December. At that event, a PG scouting report read:

 “(Cameron is a)right-handed hitter, smooth tension free swing, ideal balance and weight shift, hits calm and under control, superior bat speed for his age, squares up balls in all zones of the plate, big time raw bat speed, rare combination of hitting mechanics and bat speed/strength. 6.72 runner, sound outfield fundamentals, compact arm action, loose out front, on line throws with developing carry.”

Mike Cameron said that Daz’s participation at this tournament will probably mean he won’t play at the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers Oct. 10-14 but will plan to play for East Cobb Baseball at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 24-28.

“He loves to play so it’s always a good time for him when he gets a chance to be around good competition,” Mike said. “He’s played so much this year we’re trying to get to the point where we might get him hurt. But it’s always cool, you know. They put pretty decent teams together and they play pretty decent competition and I’m all for it.”

Daz Cameron’s love of the game was handed down directly from his father. He grew up in big-league clubhouses and learned how to play the game the right way at an early age.

“He’s had a big impact,” Daz said of his dad. “Whenever I need him he’s there to talk to, just like yesterday. I popped up the ball to third base he came over and told me to ‘see the ball’, or he’ll say something like ‘stay back on it’. He helps me a lot and he’s had a big impact on me.”

Mike said he tries to keep the nuts and bolts instruction at a minimum:

“I work with more so on his mental approaches. I work with him on a few things hitting-wise but he’s actually starting to hone his swing on his own. The biggest thing (for me) is just trying not to be too critical of him but at the same time critique him. He’s got to learn some things on his own and the areas I probably need to focus on more so is just the physical mechanics of everything that he does.

“He can actually play the game very well; he just needs to understand what he needs to be doing physically and mechanically.”

Daz Cameron has not verbally committed to a college yet. He lists Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisiana State, Georgia and Miami as “colleges considering” on his PG Player Profile but is in hurry to make that commitment.

“I’m not trying to rush it or nothing,” he said. “I’ve still got a lot of time and I’m going to let it come to me and not rush it.”