Showcase : : Story
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Embracing the West Uncommitted

Jeff Dahn        

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Perfect Game first introduced its Unsigned Seniors Showcase in 2004 and held its first PG West Uncommitted Showcase in 2007. Events known as the Uncommitted Showcase, California Uncommitted Showcase, East and Northeast Uncommitted Showcases and World Uncommitted Showcase quickly followed in lockstep.

When PG officials first entertained the idea for wintertime showcase events to be held in warm-weather cities that cater to high school seniors who are still undecided about their college plans, it is likely they had in a mind a prospect like Canadian outfielder John Whaley.

At 6-foot-2 and 200-pounds, Whaley is cut in the mold of a ballplayer physically, and in just three appearances at Perfect Game events – all this year – has shown a nice blend of speed and power.

A senior at Loyola Catholic Secondary School in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Whaley was in attendance at last weekend’s PG West Uncommitted Showcase, held in conjunction with the PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 1 at the Camelback Ranch spring training complex.

“Arizona is one of the places I’m looking at to go to school and I just wanted to come down here and get a feel for it,” Whaley said. “I thought it would be beneficial for me to be here (and) I hope to get a little bit more exposure. I want to see what the talent is like down here and how I compare.”

Whaley was one of just more than 50 high school seniors that attended the event. The seniors arrived here from 16 states and Canada with the intent of performing in front of nearly two dozen PG scouts and ultimately improve their workout numbers with the hope of raising their stock in the eyes of college recruiters. More than 115 prospects have made college commitments after attending this event and its many variations since its 2004 inception.

“We really like the Perfect Game program; for us (it provides) the foremost information on players,” John Whaley’s father, Eric Whaley said. “We felt it was important for him to come down and get a little more playing time in here and see how he rates and how he’s improved since the last time. We also wanted to come to Arizona to see what the players are like down here.

“I think it makes a huge difference when you’re trying to get your son noticed by schools,” Eric continued. “It’s my understanding and my belief that (colleges) really pay attention to this, so I think it’s really important to have the Perfect Game ratings and information (on his PG Profile).”

Perfect Game scouts called Whaley “one of the most intriguing hitters in attendance” at the West Uncommitted who “has a sound approach at the plate” and he was named to the Top Prospect List after being identified as “among the most powerful hitters at the event”. His 6.81-second clocking in the 60-yard dash was the second fastest turned in at the showcase but short of the 6.65-second effort he turned in at the Ohio Valley Showcase in Lexington, Ky., in early August.

Whaley came into the PG West Uncommitted Showcase ranked as a national “high follow” in the 2014 class and ranked the No. 14 overall prospect in Ontario. As far as college recruiters are concerned, however, the most impressive number on his PG Profile page is probably that 4.0 grade point average he carries.

“I want to go to a good academic school, that’s the main goal,” Whaley said of his yet-to-be-determined college plans.

He is also a well-rounded young man who lists track and field (he runs the 400- and 800-meters), volleyball and weight training among his other athletic interests. His father Eric was a hockey player.

“I’ve always loved playing a bunch of new sports in my life,” Whaley said. “Baseball is what I want to do at (college) but I always want to be involved in other things, too, to keep myself busy.”

Whaley got his first taste of high level travel ball this fall when he hopped on the bus with the Ontario Blue Jays and played games against college teams on a nearly three week trip that concluded at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., in late October.

The Ontario Blue Jays have long made the PG WWBA World Championship and ultimate destination as they introduce many of the top Ontario prospects to the best prospects from the United States and elsewhere.

“That was a great experience; there were a lot of talented players there and it was a lot of fun,” Whaley said of the adventure. “We spent a lot of time on the bus and we had to keep up with our homework every day, and it was an experience that I’m really glad that I got to have. I think it prepared me for college when we’ll be traveling to games; it was an experience that I had never had before.”

While at home in Oakville, he plays not only for his Loyola Catholic Secondary School team but also in the Premier Baseball League of Ontario (PBLO), of which the Blue Jays are a member.

“There a few really talented teams around my area and in our league, the PBLO,” Whaley said, “but it’s a lot different than coming down here with all these different facilities and all the talented players here. It’s just a lot of fun coming to these (Perfect Game events). I want to do my best and also make sure that I’m having fun while I do it. I just always want to do the best that I can do.”

It seems inevitable that Canadian outfielder John Whaley will land at a stateside college before all is said and done, especially if he stays on the course he has chosen. There will be several more PG showcase opportunities in the months preceding his high school graduation that he can request invitations to, and now that he is intent on a collegiate baseball career it seems unlikely he will slip through the cracks.

“He plays other sports but this is by far the one he’s been most interested in,” his dad, Eric, said. “The traveling, going to the tournaments, meeting different people – it’s just been a phenomenal experience over the years and it’s just absolutely been great. We’ve just loved following his career and seeing him get bigger and better, and I just love watching baseball and the tournaments that he’s been in.”

There should be many more to come.

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