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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rash quiets crowd at PG Indoor

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Alec Rash is a young man of very few words, so perhaps it was fitting that a room full of professional scouts, parents and about 40 of the top prospects from across the Midwest quieted down somewhat when it was Rash’s turn to pitch Sunday afternoon.

The folks were gathered at Perfect Game headquarters for the second day of the two-day Perfect Game Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase and Rash was one of Sunday’s head-liners. A 6-foot-5, 190-pound right-hander out of Adel (Iowa) A-D-M (Adel-DeSoto-Minburn) High School, Rash is the top-ranked prospect in the state of Iowa and No. 160 nationally in the class of 2012.

“A bit of a hush fell across the crowd as RHP Alec Rash took the mound,” PG scouting coordinator/blogger Ben Collman wrote after Rash’s pitching session Sunday. “Video cameras popped up behind home plate as the top-ranked pitcher in Iowa” made his appearance.

Rash’s fastball had reached 92 mph at previous Perfect Game events and it set at 92-93 during his outing Sunday. The 93 mph velocity tied Minnesota right-hander Mitchell Brown as quickest at the showcase and fell just short of the event record of 94 mph shared by four hurlers.

“I felt great out there,” the soft-spoken Rash said about an hour after he had thrown to live hitters. “I knew there would be a lot of (scouts) here so I just wanted to come down to throw.”

PG’s  Collman, in his blog, wrote that “Rash looks the part of a top pitching prospect with a long, athletic frame (and) long limbs. He has short arm action with very good arm speed and showed better command than previously shown. Rash mixed his fastball and also threw a slider at 78-81 that got harder with a sharper break as he went along.”

Rash is wrapping up his high school career at Adel A-D-M after spending his junior year in Pelham, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham. He wound up in Alabama when he moved there with his mother, who had accepted a job transfer, but then returned to Iowa to complete high school.

He said last summer that the time he spent in Alabama helped his baseball skills – “(The level of play) was really good; I learned a lot” – and that he may not have shown as much improvement since returning to Iowa. That’s mostly because he’s also a standout football and basketball player at A-D-M and isn’t able to devote as much of his time to baseball.

“Maybe not a lot (of improvement) because of other sports, but I’m going to improve sometime soon,” when he starts concentrating strictly on baseball, Rash said.

Rash committed to the University of Missouri early in his high school career and has signed his national letter of intent. And, of course, the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft is coming up in early June.

“I’m looking forward to it. College baseball would be fun,” Rash said of his commitment to Mizzou. “We pay attention to (the draft) and we talk to a lot of people about it and they’ve said I’ll get more of an indication (of where he might slot-in) when spring rolls around.”

Being the top-ranked prospect in the state of Iowa can offer mixed signals, since that No. 1 prospect is often in a “big fish in a small pond” situation. “It’s cool to look at and to know that you’re up there, but you still have to compete,” Rash said of the rankings.

Four of Iowa’s five top-ranked prospects in the class of 2011 were drafted and two of them signed professional contracts. The state’s No. 1-ranked prospect in 2011, left-hander Braden Shull, was selected by the Phillies in the 27th round and signed a contract.

Outfielder Nick Day (No. 2) was undrafted and ended up at the University of Iowa; outfielder Derrick Loveless (No. 3) was taken by the Blue Jays in the 27th round and signed; right-hander Dakota Freese (No. 4) was taken by the White Sox in the 34th round and is at LSU-Eunice; and right-hander Brandon Platts (No. 5) was a 13th round pick by the Pirates, didn’t sign and is at Missouri.

Many top Iowa prospects are alumni of the PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor and have been drafted high in past years, but it's unclear just where Rash might fit in.

Rash is a hard-core Perfect Game veteran with close to a dozen events under his belt. This weekend’s PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor is his fifth showcase event, joining appearances at the 2009 PG Midwest Underclass, 2010 PG Spring Top Prospect, 2010 PG Junior National, 2011 PG National and 2011 PG Midwest Top Prospect. He has also played four seasons in the PG Iowa Spring and Fall Wood Bat Leagues, and has played in PG WWBA tournaments.

 “They’ve all been positive,” he said of those experiences. “That’s what keeps me coming back.”

Scouts should expect to have the opportunity to see Rash again before the June draft at the 2012 PG Spring Top Prospect Showcase (April 21-22) and at the 2012 PG National Pre-Draft Showcase (May 14), both at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. He is also expected to play in the 2012 Spring Iowa Wood Bat League at various high school fields across the state.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association doesn’t offer a spring baseball season.

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