Major League calling: MLB scouts spend winter pitching to Heritage’s Clifton
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
Most teenagers spend their high school years interviewing for jobs that include drive-thru windows or grocery store check-out lines.
Trevor Clifton has sat through more than his share of job interviews over the winter between his junior and senior baseball season, just on a bit of a larger scale.
Major League Baseball teams, 27 of them to be exact, have either made in-home visits with the Heritage pitcher, called him, scouted him at practice or even sent him Christmas cards — all in preparation for June’s MLB Draft.
“It was exciting at first, then it kind of got old after a while,” Clifton told The Daily Times with a laugh. “They were asking the same questions.”
The big question, though, is will Clifton go pro when he’s drafted, or will he go to the University of Kentucky, the school he verbally committed to in August and signed scholarship papers with in November.
“They just ask me if I’ll sign a contract to go into the Draft, or am I more set going to college,” Clifton said of the big league reps. “Then they come in and meet my parents and stuff.”
Clifton said he’s discussed the options with his parents, but nothing has been set in stone.
“We have, but we’re not set on an asking price. We’re just going to take it step by step.”
Clifton, a lanky right-hander, has been projected as high as a first round pick in June.
What has the pro scouts’ interests is Clifton’s fastball, which has topped out as high as 94 mph with movement. To complement that, he has a slider/curve mix in the mid-70s and an upper-80s changeup.
Adding to the three pitches, his 6-foot-4 frame suggests more velocity is on the way as his body fills out.
All the added attention has made Clifton’s “offseason” that much longer.
“Baseball is year-round for me,” Clifton said, “but (the offseason) has felt that much longer with different teams coming it, it’s felt like baseball everyday.”
The exhausting list of teams that have made house calls looks more like a Major League Baseball role call: the New York Mets; Tampa Bay Rays; Chicago Cubs; Pittsburgh Pirates; Oakland Athletics; San Francisco; Milwaukee Brewers; Washington Nationals; Toronto Blue Jays; Minnesota Twins; Kansas City Royals; Texas Rangers.
Clifton has made trips himself to see the Atlanta Braves and the Mets. The Royals and the Cincinnati Reds sent Christmas cards in December. As many as 12 MLB scouts showed up on Heritage’s first day of practice.
All the offseason attention has Clifton ready to start his final season at Heritage, though, where he can finally worry about baseball between the foul lines.
“It will be a big year because of it being my senior season,” Clifton said. “This is when most of the pro scouts come in.”
As a sophomore in 2011, Clifton was one of 17 players in the country selected for the 16-under junior national team, playing in the IBAF 16-Under World Championships in Lagos de Mareno, Mexico.
Before his junior season, it was college baseball that was making the recruiting pitches.
Clifton chose Kentucky over the likes of Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Louisiana State, Arizona, Arizona State and the Air Force Academy.
Kentucky has stayed in touch, hoping to hold on to the highly-touted prospect.
“I hear from them as much as I did when they were recruiting me,” Clifton said of Kentucky. “Coach Bo (Kentucky assistant coach Brad Bohannon) talks to be about the draft and stuff. He said it’s whatever I want and whatever is best for me.”
“He told me if I get offered a lot of money, he’d take it too.’
It’s the similar to the advice Clifton said he’s heard from his dad.
“He’s just said basically do what you want to do, just make sure you make the right choice.”
And that’s a choice he’s given plenty of attention.
“I’ve thought a lot about it,” Clifton said.
“Just, what would be better for me? And how much I’m going to have to grow up.”