Baseball players converge on Eau Claire for pro tryouts

By: Matt Cullen Email
By: Matt Cullen Email

No matter the age or the skill level, baseball remains a summertime way of life across the country. For many athletes, playing ball is all they've ever known, and it's the only career they want.

"You can't just let your high school coach take care of that," said Eau Claire North Sophomore Outfielder Seth Hurt. "You have to go out and promote yourself, go to these camps, and really become known all over Wisconsin and your area."

Players from around Wisconsin would prove their talents today at a free agent tryout put on by scouts from the Kansas City Royals. Among the mix of high school, college and amateur athletes, hometown players such as Chevy Tollefson and Seth Hurt were all looking to turn a few heads.

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Former Eau Claire Memorial Pitcher
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"I felt really good. The adrenaline was pumping, which helped a lot," said Tollefson, a former pitcher at Eau Claire Memorial. "My arm was a little tired to start out the day, but I think I did pretty well."

"I think I did pretty well in the outfield," Hurt said. "The 60-yard dash went really well. I think you're kind of intimidated not knowing about everyone else, but once you get out there and just do your best, I think it all falls into place."

With over 65 ballplayers shocasing their skills, tenths of a second or a few extra miles per hour on a fastball is the fine line separating a dream chaser from a diamond in the rough. But even for the standouts, the numbers don't lie: it's still a long road to a big-league roster.

¶Scott Melvin/K.C. Royals Midwest Regional Scout says, "I mean, I've signed kids out of tryout camps before, but I want to make it real clear that it's unusual," said Kansas City Royals Midwest regional scout Scott Melvin. " We just had the major league draft last Wednesday and Thursday, and we just drafted 50 new players and we're trying to sign those guys."

"But again, we're all trying to identify players, baseball players, and they come in all shapes and sizes and they come from all parts of the world."

Despite the odds, just the chance to play more baseball is an attraction that's too strong to ignore.

"I'm just trying to get my name out there, go to a couple showcases, you know, just showcase my talent," said Mark Sobol, who recently finished his collegiate baseball career with Carthage College. "Hopefully, what someone's looking for ... hopefully, it'll be something I've got. I don't want to regret it the rest of my life."

For the tryout participants, all they're looking for is a future that includes baseball.


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