Scouts Will Get Good Look At Lake Wales Pitcher Taylor Cockrell
Tue. July 31, 2012 at 8:59 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
LAKE WALES PITCHER TAYLOR COCKRELL was invited to attend the East Coast Pro Showcase. (Photo by PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Lake Wales pitcher Taylor Cockrell was picked to be a part of a premier amateur baseball showcase taking place in upstate New York starting today.
And if Cockrell, a rising senior, continues to perform as well as he did during his junior year and at the tryouts prior to the event, his stock will likely rise leading up to the 2013 major league baseball draft.
"This is a prestigious invite-only showcase," Lake Wales baseball coach Jasone DeWitt said. "It's a very special opportunity for Taylor."
For the next four days, Cockrell will work out and play games before a crowd of 350-plus major league scouts at the East Coast Pro Showcase, which is taking place in Syracuse, N.Y. The same event was held at Tigertown in Lakeland the past five years.
Cockrell was the lone Polk County athlete invited to the event, where high school players from six regions on the East Coast play under the direction of MLB scouts. Players are selected from Maine to Louisiana and are divided into six teams.
Cockrell was picked for the Rockies squad.
The event is the highlight of the summer for baseball scouts, particularly because they get the opportunity to get to know the athletes.
"If you wanted to buy a car, you're going to want to check underneath the hood. We're doing the same thing here," said John Cedarburg, the area supervisor for Central and South Florida for the Colorado Rockies. "We're getting the opportunity to talk with these kids, and if we get to know them and we like what we see, it can help their draft status."
Last year's Rockies team had 11 first or supplemental round picks and everyone was selected in the draft except for one player.
"This year might be completely different, but last year was a tremendous year for the state of Florida," Cedarburg said.
Cockrell originally tried out as a catcher in the fall but made the cut for the showcase as a pitcher because he had a solid outing in the spring at that position.
"He's got a nice curveball and a good feel for a changeup. He's also lean and wiry and has a nice build," Cedarburg said.
Cockrell started his high school career as a catcher but was asked to pitch as a sophomore. He took to it quickly with the help of the Lake Wales baseball staff.
"This year the coaches at Lake Wales worked with him a lot and they found stuff in him that he didn't think he had," his father, Will Cockrell, said.
Added DeWitt: "He's a competitor and a bulldog and as soon as he touched the bump for us, he was great."
Cockrell finished the season 9-2 with 84 strikeouts. He threw a no-hitter in the regular season and helped lead his team to the Class 5A regional finals, where he battled Jesuit pitcher Lance McCullers, a first-round supplemental pick in this year's draft, before an eventual 6-2 loss.
He's currently committed to play baseball for Stetson University, though those plans could change quickly.
"As a family, we hope he goes to college and does well, but you never know with major league baseball. It's a dream of his to play pro," Will Cockrell said. "He's just taking this all in stride and trying to have fun with it."