Bedell caps whirlwind at PGAAC

Photo: Perfect Game

Jeff Dahn
Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SAN DIEGO – To call Ian Bedell’s summer of 2017 a whirlwind of baseball activity would be akin to calling a monsoon a light rain shower. “Whirlwind” just doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word to adequately describe what the talented right-handed pitcher and Davenport, Iowa, native has experienced over the past two months.

And to think that this jam-packed summer of baseball, airports, road trips and living out of a suitcase hasn’t even hit its crescendo yet. The high point will be reached this weekend when Bedell joins 51 of the country’s other top prospects from the national class of 2018 for the 15th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic; the nationally televised all-star game is scheduled for Sunday at the Padres’ Petco Park.

Contemplate for a moment what the soon-to-be 18-year-old Bedell has been involved with since his junior year at Davenport Central High School finished up in late May. He technically got his summer started by turning in a Top Prospect List performance at the PG National Pre-Draft Showcase in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on May 15, and then did the same thing at the prestigious PG National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., in mid-June.

He’s played in several tournaments with his Midland Redskins’ teammates in Ohio and traveled with the Midland Braves to PG Park South at LakePoint in Emerson, Ga., for the 17u PG WWBA National Championship in early July where they finished 2-2-0.

From there, it was back to Ohio for a stretch before flying off for Farmington, N.M. last week, to battle for a title at the AABC Connie Mack World Series; Midland won the 18u event’s national championship with a 9-0-0 record.

With barely enough time to re-pack and catch both his breath and another plane, Bedell shot over to Long Beach, Calif., to perform at the Area Code Games, which began Sunday. He will soon meet up with his dad, Daniel Bedell, who is driving to Long Beach, and they will motor down to San Diego for the PGAAC.

He has not been home in Davenport since June 4, but during a telephone conversation with PG late last week, it was clear that two months on the road had done nothing to squelch his enthusiasm for a game he has obviously dedicated his young life to.

“It’s been one of the best summers of my life” Bedell said, speaking from Farmington during Midland’s CMWS championship run. “Being away from my friends and my family gets a little tough at times, but you’re not really thinking about that. We’re at the field three hours a day and we’re just enjoying ourselves. It’s like a family; everybody enjoys one another.”

Bedell was part of a Midland roster that boasted, in his words, the “best 18u pitching staff in the country.” The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bedell, a University of Missouri commit, was joined in Farmington by top 2017s Tyler Brown (Vanderbilt), Jeff Criswell (Michigan), Peyton Deats (Kent State), Ben Dragani (Michigan), Liam Eddy (Wichita State), Seth Lonsway (Ohio State) and Jake Schrand (Wright State); top 2018s included Cole Ayers (Kentucky) and Lane Flamm (Xavier). “It’s a bunch of dudes, that’s the best way to put it,” he said.

He’s also going to be sharing the field with a bunch of dudes at Petco Park, as well, many of whom he’s already had an opportunity to meet.

The PGAAC is going to immediately reunite Bedell with Seth Halvorson, Jared Kelenic, John Malcom, Nicholas Schnell and Alek Thomas, all of whom were teammates of his on the White Sox roster at the Area Code Games.

Going way back, it will also reunite him with Bryce Bush, who along with Malcom were once teammates on the same 10u team at a Cal Ripken Baseball event eight years ago. To say that Bedell is looking forward to the weekend ahead would be another huge understatement. Receiving an invitation to the PG All-American Classic is something he’s always coveted.

“I have nine goals taped up on my closet door,” Bedell divulged, “and at the very top it was the PG Classic. It’s probably been three or four years since I started paying attention to it and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since then.”

Bedell, who is ranked No. 32 nationally in his class, was at the PG Underclass All-American Games at the University of San Diego last August and made sure he got over to Petco Park the night before the Underclass Games began so he could take in last year’s PGAAC in person.

He watched intently while top prospects Royce Lewis, Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore went about their business out on the Petco Park Field – Lewis was the game’s MVP – just 10 months before they went 1-2-3 in June’s MLB Amateur Draft.

That fact that many PG All-Americans become first-round draft picks is certainly something Bedell is aware of and he is honored to be following in those players’ footsteps while keeping his sense of humility.

Being a realist, he knows he is not going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft so he just feels honored to know he will be sharing the field with a prospect who just might go No. 1 overall. “Just being around a lot of great guys with huge talent drives you,” he said.

Bedell has always been a baseball guy, ever since his dad set up a batting tee in the backyard for he and his twin brother, Connor Bedell. Connor has also been a top-tier pitcher but two arm surgeries – including the Tommy John procedure last year – have slowed his career.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association continues to sanction only a summer baseball season –basically just June and July – which can present challenges for the state’s top prospects.

Bedell, for instance, played for his Davenport Central team as a freshman and sophomore – he was 7-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings as a sophomore in 2016 – but pitched only 12 innings in two starts for the Blue Devils this summer (1 ER, 0.58 ERA, 2 hits, 22 Ks) before leaving for Ohio to join Midland.

He also laments the fact that there is no indoor facility in Davenport for the players to use during the harsh winter months, but he also sees a silver lining in that dark cloud. Here it is, early August, and Bedell reports that his arm is 100 percent healthy and as strong as ever because he takes a minimum of three months off throwing during the winter.

“I’ve thrown 23 innings this year; that’s it,” Bedell said before leaving for the Area Code Games where was sure to log a few more frames. “I’m just now starting to get into peak form and we’re already almost at the end of the season. If I would have played during the high school season I would have thrown 50-plus innings and been a little bit overused.”

Bedell plans on playing with the top PG Iowa Select team for a couple of months when he gets home from San Diego – he was named to the all-tournament team at last year’s PG WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship playing with Iowa Select Navy – and he’ll also be returning to the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., at the end of October, playing with Midland.

Bedell comes from sturdy, Iowa roots. His father, Daniel, is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and works as an engineer in the Quad Cities. The perspectives Daniel has been able to provide his son has helped Ian to grow and become a more grounded young man.

“The stories that you hear from him can really help impact your life, and how you make your decisions,” Bedell said. “He’s traveled all over the world and he’s seen a lot of things and it’s eye-opening when your dad is telling you how to handle certain situations. With advisors, with colleges, with life he’s always help guide me.”

Honey Bedell, Ian’s mother, is a graduate of Baylor University who earned a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and works in public relations. Strong academic performances are obviously a point of emphasis in the Bedell household and Ian will take a 3.9 grade-point average into his senior year at Central this fall.

After beginning the college recruiting process with a host of schools to consider, Bedell eventually narrowed his choices to Virginia – which was coming of its College World Series championship in 2015 – and Missouri. He ultimately chose the Tigers over the Cavaliers in large part because the Columbia campus is an easy 4 ½ hour drive from his Davenport home.

“I absolutely loved the school; walking around (campus) it just felt like home,” he said. “The culture around the school, it just felt like home … and it’s a family environment, even in the baseball program. It was just a perfect fit for me.”

Everything that Bedell has experienced during this whirlwind of a summer may seem like a bit of a blur right now, but the time will come when he’ll be able to reflect upon it and really appreciate how much he’s learned about himself and how he manages his time.

And this weekend in San Diego actually be a respite from a pressure-packed schedule that involves playing for national championships and wanting to be at your best in front of the scouts. This weekend is all about having fun and reaping the rewards that a lot of hard work has produced.

“I’m glad that the All-American Classic is at the end of the summer,” Bedell said., "because it’s going to be the capper of everything.”

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