Pine Bluff native Jeff Gross came back to his hometown on Wednesday to host a PRO-DAY Showcase at Taylor Field.
It gave 21 high school baseball players from the state of Arkansas, specifically this area, a chance show their skills to former Major League Baseball scouts.
Gross, who is a former scout for the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs, was joined by Bill Earnhart, who is a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I was pleased with the young kids that were there, and I always enjoy coming back to Pine Bluff and doing an event at Taylor Field,” Gross said. “There were some good freshmen and sophomores to be. We had some young kids who were good sizes and did well.”
Gross said players came for Pine Bluff, White Hall, Crossett, Springdale, DeWitt, Lonoke and a few from Northeast Arkansas.
The Showcase is one of many that Gross runs for the PRO-DAY Baseball organization. The players’ skills are graded out with where they are at today, and then projected to where the scouts think how they will progress two to three years down the road.
An overall score of eight is the highest score a player can get.
“We grade awful tough,” Gross said. “But we had an eight (Wednesday) and we give out about 40 eights a year after seining hundreds of players.”
Watson Chapel’s Zach Bradford was the player who earned an eight. Bradford just graduated from Watson Chapel and helped lead the Wildcats to the Class 5A state title game. He is a pitcher and plays first base, but has not committed to a college yet.
“He received an eight just in hitting,” Gross said. “He had our top score in the hitting evaluations.
Watson Chapel’s Reece Huffty, who also just graduated, was graded out as the top catcher at the showcase.
“He wants to stay in-state and hopefully we can get him a workout soon,” Gross said. “Hopefully we could get him some place and looking at which route to go right now.”
Former Watson Chapel pitcher Jeremy Brann was also at the showcase. He currently plays for North Arkansas Community College, a junior college.
“He is looking at his next step,” Gross said. “He graduated in 2010 and has another year at the junior college, and we are encouraging him to get strong for next season and that will help him develop his pitches.”
In terms of future college prospects, Gross was impressed with White Hall’s Daniel Sprinkle. His brother, Jeremy, will be a freshman at Arkansas and is slotted to be a tight end for the Razorbacks.
Daniel Sprinkle will be a sophomore at White Hall next year.
“He’s a guy that we want to keep an eye on for sure,” Gross said. “He plays all sports and did very well at the showcase.”
Gross and his team will go over the evaluations and could choose six players to attend the North/South/East/West Regional Showcase in Millington, Tenn., on Aug 2-5.
“They haven’t been selected yet, but we will have about half a dozen guys make that showcase from here,” he said.