The bleachers at St. Martin High School were loaded with scouts from nearly all 30 major league squads Tuesday night, and all of them had to leave the park buzzing about George County senior right-hander Trevor McDonald.
Scouts traveled to the Coast this week to watch a long list of high school prospects compete in the Battle at the Beach, which features 58 teams playing games at several different locations in the area through Saturday.
No game in the six-day event put more talent on display than the Jackson Prep-George County game that was played at Les French Field in St. Martin on Tuesday night.
Jackson Prep senior outfielder Jerion Ealy and George County senior catcher/pitcher Logan Tanner have long had the attention of pro scouts. Ealy, who signed last month to play football at Ole Miss, was rated as the No. 4 MLB prospect for the 2019 draft this past summer by Perfect Game. Tanner is a Perfect Game All-American as a catcher and a Mississippi State signee.
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Compared to Ealy and and Tanner, McDonald is a late arrival as a top MLB prospect. But he showed Tuesday night why his stock has taken a meteoric rise.
McDonald allowed one hit, struck out 12 and issued one walk in five innings to pick up the 2-0 win over Jackson Prep (9-3) as George County improved to 10-0.
The South Alabama signee always had the competitive grit and a nice repertoire of pitches to rely on as part of a talented George County pitching staff, but he became a much more attractive pro prospect when his fastball hit 95 miles per hour at a Perfect Game showcase in Kissimee, Florida, in January.
He managed to reach 93 miles per hour in cool conditions early in Tuesday night’s game.
When McDonald made the decision to go with his fastball, few of the Jackson Prep hitters could make decent contact. And that includes Ealy.
Ealy was the first man to face McDonald Tuesday night and all it took were a pair of fastballs and one curveball. The speedy Ealy never took the bat off his shoulder in a three-pitch strikeout to lead off the bottom of the first. Ealy faced McDonald three times, striking out again in the third and grounding out in the fifth.
“It’s just like any other hitter, pound the zone with all my pitches.” McDonald said. “I feel confident enough that I can do that with anybody.”
A year ago, McDonald’s fastball was consistently in the high 80’s as he and Tanner combined to give George County the best one-two pitching combo in the state. Tanner has always been a flame thrower and his fastball has reached as high as 96 mph this year.
McDonald’s ability to close in on his teammate in velocity can be credited to his bulked up 6-foot-2 frame.
“I didn’t throw any this fall,” He said. “I put on about 18 pounds in the weight room. I started back throwing and my velocity had jumped. It helped out a lot.”
McDonald now weighs in at about 185 pounds after playing at 165 a year ago.
“This season, he has come out with a little more fuel in his tank,” George County coach Brandon Davis said. “He’s starting to throw the ball well. Not just his velocity has increased, but the amount of strikes he’s thrown.”
Tough to beat
The catcher-pitcher combination of Tanner-McDonald will be tough for any team to beat this season, especially if McDonald continues to throw the way he did Tuesday night.
“His change-up was a strike, curveball was a strike, slider a strike. They’re all really good,” Tanner said. “He kept it spotting it up, working ahead and getting outs.”
With his fastball now in the mid-90’s, McDonald knows that’s a pitch he can go to when he absolutely has to get the batter.
“I have confidence in it,” he said. “Logan, even if it’s close, he does a great job framing it. If they don’t swing, I feel confident they’ll call it a strike because of Logan back there.”
McDonald, who was 2-for-3 at the plate, also knocked in both of George County’s runs Tuesday night with RBI singles in the third and sixth innings.
“This is my senior year, I just want to help this team go to state and win it,” McDonald said. “I want to hit as good as I pitch.”
McDonald combined with two other George County pitchers to strike out 16 Jackson Prep batters total. Sophomore right-hander Alan Williams had one in the sixth and senior right-hander Cody McDoniel struck out all three batters in the seventh.
George County is scheduled to host St. Piux X at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday as the Battle at the Beach continues through Saturday.