SUMMER league baseball, where records often go unkept and players are scattered about, is obviously far more laid back than the actual season.
But that doesn’t mean that players don’t make waves this time of year.
Jefferson’s Zach Boobas, Kasen Rainey, Jared Bates and Hunter Thompson have all used the summer exhibition slate to show coach Tommy Knight what they might offer next year.
“Basically, those are the ones that have stood out in my mind,” said Knight, whose team has two summer tournaments remaining.
Boobas, a reserve catcher last year, is getting plenty of at bats and time behind the plate as a rising sophomore this summer following the graduation of Andy Nicolaus.
“Zach has really swung the bat well and he’s starting to figure it out behind the plate,” said Knight, who added that Boobas has been blocking the ball well and throwing well.
Rainey, another rising sophomore, has proven valuable in the infield, working a lot at shortstop, where the Dragons lost an all-region performer in Max Ford. Jake Franklin can play short, but the team needs someone to fill that slot next spring when Franklin is pitching.
“Kasen has done an excellent job as far as that goes defensively and he’s started to swing the bat pretty well, too, in the last three or four ball games,” Knight said.
Bates, a rising senior, has been working at both first and pitcher.
“He’s played some first base and swung it pretty good, but we’re trying to find another pitcher,” Knight said. “Of course, you can’t ever have enough pitchers.”
Meanwhile, Thompson, a rising junior, has been on a tear offensively.
“Hunter has had a great summer at the plate,” Knight said. “He has been one of our most consistent hitters and has been driving the ball from gap to gap.”
Many of the Dragons’ returning starters are spending the summer away from the team, playing travel ball against elite talent.
“Once they establish themselves on the varsity level, they go play a little higher level of ball and go play some showcase tournaments,” Knight said. “It gives us a chance to work with some of the younger guys.”
One exception is outfielder Christian Hutch, a first-team all-region performer, who has been with the team regularly throughout the summer.
“Hutch just does what he does … he’s swung the bat well and he’s pitching a little on the mound to see if he can help us there,” Knight said of the rising senior. “Hutch is just a good ball player.”
Jefferson, which went 21-5 last year and lost to state-runner up GAC in the first round of the Class AA playoffs, moves up to Class AAA next year but has approached this summer as it would any other.
“We kind of do the same thing every summer no matter what — whether we’re moving up or staying,” Knight said. “It’s about trying to find those guys who can move in and fill some spots for us next year.”
Jefferson plays next weekend at the Commerce Slugfest and the Jackson County Shootout the following weekend.
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