Prep beat

JIM PETERS: Region baseball talent crop continues to grow

2014-06-26T17:00:00Z 2014-06-27T00:36:07Z JIM PETERS: Region baseball talent crop continues to growJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
June 26, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

There was a time when being a Division I recruit made a player a shoe-in to make our first-team list of all-area players.

As you'll find out when the latest edition is revealed in the coming days, that is no longer a guarantee.

"Talking to college coaches, they've figured out there are some damn good baseball players in Northwest Indiana," Portage coach Tim Pirowski said. "And it's getting better."

The talent didn't surface all at once, nor did recruiters suddenly come to realize the hotbed that our corner of the state is on the diamond.

"Part of the issue was there were a lot of new coaches in the 2000s," Crown Point's Steve Strayer said. "As there was consistency with the coaches, there was better talent. I think once people started seeing all the talent, it made it easier. Everybody kind of zoned in. Northwest Indiana has a lot of good baseball, and there are a lot of good coaches in the area. I don't think it's a coincidence you're getting both of that."

While Hobart's Brandon Murray (South Carolina) and Bishop Noll's Larry Crisler (Indiana) are the gems of the class of 2014, they aren't the only jewels in the region mines. Purdue picked up Lake Central's Alec Olund, ditto IPFW for LaPorte's Evan Miller. Northern Illinois snagged Kevin Jones (Portage) and Joe Jumonville (Munster), while Jumonville's teammate Alex Del Rio will play for Missouri. Throw in Portage's Chris Klenk (Cincinnati) and Hobart's Brandon Barnes (Eastern Illinois) and you have yourself a lineup of local Division I players alone.

That doesn't even include Matt DeSomer from Andrean, who may or may not play baseball at Southern Illinois, or the abundance of players going to smaller colleges.

"The Crossroads (Showcase) has been able to help promote kids. Players are more aware of (those things), and they're out to promote themselves," Strayer said. "Coaching staffs are more in tune with getting the names of kids out there. The communication process between recruiters and coaches is better. It's made it much easier for recruiting. Scouts may come here to look at certain players and they happen to see somebody else on another team."

Pirowski, a regular with the Crossroads event, said they've been all but forced to play the NWI team in the final game of the showcase, held at the U.S. Steel Yard, to keep recruiters and scouts in the stadium.

"If we didn't, they'd leave after that game," he said. "Every one I've talked to, they want to lock down Northwest Indiana."

And while the competition is fierce during the season, coaches want to see players, whether from their team or someone else's, get the chance to continue their careers beyond high school.

"(Recruiters) get very comfortable around coaches, they're inclined to call," Strayer said, "whether it's about a kid from your school or not. They'll talk about players from other schools."

Whether it's the likes of Munster's Connor Manous (Miami, Fla., commit) Crown Point's Noah Burkholder (Louisville commit), who missed most of this season with an injury, Hobart's Braden Niksich, Hanover Central's Jesse Wilkening or Valparaiso's Max Roberts, the stream of talent continues to surge.

Our selection process isn't going to get any easier, and while some folks won't be pleased with our choices, the end result is better baseball.

No one can argue with that.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Who was the area's best baseball player this season?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News