By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
For a second consecutive year, Cascade’s Ky Dye and Lake Stevens’ Branden Kelliher, both pitchers, will get the opportunity to show their stuff to major league baseball scouts and top college coaches at the New Balance Area Code baseball tournament.
The games begin today at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif. and run through Saturday.
The tournament, which features some of the best high school baseball players from across the country, is comprised of eight teams representing eight regions nationwide. The teams are built by one of eight MLB teams that include the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics.
Both Dye and Kelliher play for the Royals, which is made up of players from the Pacific Northwest.
Scouts from all 30 MLB teams and the MLB Scouting Bureau are expected to be in attendance as are college coaches from many of the country’s top programs.
Dye and Kelliher will both be seniors at their respective schools this school year and made the Area Code team as juniors as well. Players from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 high school classes were eligible to try out.
Players are eligible to try out by invitation only. Invitations are sent out based on the recommendations of MLB scouts and the scouting bureau.
Dye went through the tryout process a year ago, but didn’t have to try out for the teams this summer.
“They’ve been following me throughout the year and I didn’t change much this year so they just invited me back,” Dye said.
Last year, Dye said he was one of about 20 pitchers competing for eight spots on the team, two of which would go to him and Kelliher.
After a long wait watching some of the other players take batting practice, the pitchers finally got the chance to show what they can do — and they had just 20 pitches to do it.
“I was really excited (to make the team),” Dye said. “I wasn’t really expecting to make the team because I’ve always felt like I’ve been too small to really do anything, so it was a good feeling to make the team.”
He may be a seasoned veteran now, but Dye admits he had his fears on his first go-around because of his size.
“It was kind of intimidating last year, to be honest,” Dye said. “All of those big kids and I’m just this little short guy competing against all those big old 6-2 guys that can smash balls.”
At least Dye had the comfort of playing with a friend.
“I’ve loved playing with Branden,” Dye said. “I’ve been playing with him since I was 11 or 12 years old. We’ve grown up together always competing with all of our stuff because we have always been pretty much the same pitcher, throwing hard and trying to compete against each other and have the best outing.”
Kelliher has already verbally committed to play baseball at the University of San Diego, but will have a choice to make if he is selected high enough in next year’s MLB draft.
Dye on the other hand it yet to make any decisions. He said he hopes to make a decision on a college no later than October and possibly as soon as two weeks after the completion of the Area Code tournament.
“Most of the college scouts give away most of their scholarship money in the first signing period,” Dye said. “If you wait around too long you aren’t going to get much of an offer.”
Like Kelliher, Dye said he would consider going straight to the minor leagues if he is selected high enough in the draft.
“The ultimate goal is to go to college, but if I get drafted and I get drafted in a good round, it’s a good possibility that I will take that,” Dye said.
Both players helped lead their teams to the 4A state tournament this past spring and are expected to be among the state’s best again in 2014. Dye said playing in the Area Code games will help him be an even better competitor for the Bruins.
“It makes it so that you are always trying to compete at the higher level of what you know you can compete at, besides just throwing fastballs and blowing it by people in high school,” Dye said. “With the kids in Area Code, you have to locate all of your pitches and get everything over (the plate) to actually have a chance to be good down there because they will smack your fastball around. They don’t care if it’s 92 (miles per hour) or not.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.