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Jul 6, 2009 12:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Podlas shows his skills on national stage

Jul 6, 2009 12:59 PM

Most young baseball players can only dream of playing in the major leagues, but for Mark Podlas, Remsenburg resident and junior at Westhampton Beach High School, that dream is inching closer and closer to a reality.

Podlas has been attending a number of national baseball showcases and college camps for the past few years to show pro and college scouts his skills. And from June 11 to 14, he attended one of the most prominent, the Perfect Game National Showcase in the Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Twins, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Perfect Game USA is a baseball showcase mogul and allows young players, such as Podlas, to display their talents on the field. The national showcase always features the top 230 juniors across the country and, according to a press release by Perfect Game USA, the showcases they have held in the past seven years has produced more first round draft picks than any other single event and many of the participants sign with some of the top college programs in the country. Perfect Game also reports to all 30 Major League Scouting Departments and over 1,500 college programs. Among those who have gone through their showcases are B.J. and Justin Upton, Scott Kazmir and Prince Fielder.

At the showcase, Podlas had to go through a number of events that displayed all of his skills. There was a 60-yard dash, infield and outfield drills, batting practice, a home run derby and then a game with the other players who made it to the showcase.

Podlas ran a quick 6.7 seconds in the 60-yard dash, did well in all of his drills and then hit two home runs in the derby, which was at Concordia University. In the game at the Metrodome, Podlas went 1 for 5 with a single off a pitcher throwing 93 mph, reached base on an error and also made a diving catch in the outfield.

The game itself was a little different than a normal ball game. Since the scouts wanted to see a lot of different aspects from the players and also wanted to see all of the players, Podlas was switched around from left, center and right field during the game and there were only five batters per inning to have the game go quicker. Podlas was happy with how he did.

“I think I showed pretty well,” he said. “I hit pretty well considering I don’t see 92, 93 too often.”

Terry Moran, Westhampton Beach varsity baseball head coach, said that he’s talked to a couple of NCAA Division I schools and one of the things they love about Podlas is his body type. He’s a 6-foot-3-inch left-handed hitter and thrower. Podlas batted .484 with five home runs, 24 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases this past season for the Hurricanes.

“They say he’s got a top D1 bat and that’s the first thing that really jumps out at them,” Moran said. “He’s got great speed for his height, which they fall in love with too, and he’s got great range in the outfield.”

The one thing Podlas needs to do, says Moran, is get into the weight room, which is something they both will focus on coming into his senior season.

“He needs to get a little bit stronger,” he said. “I’ve had him since the eighth grade and I’ve seen him get bigger and stronger. He’ll get into the weight room and with that will come his arm strength and his speed, which is what we want to work on to get him ready for college.”

Podlas thought it was “pretty insane” that he was able to play on a major league field.

“Everything was perfect,” he said. “We got to use their dugouts, batting cages.”

While he didn’t get to meet any current players during his time at the Metrodome, the group of young players did have a talk from former New York Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson who went over the mental rigors of playing in the majors. What he took from the showcase, Podlas said, is that there are a lot of good baseball players around the country.

“I guess it’s good to show my talents, but these kids are pretty good,” he said.

Podlas is no stranger to showing off his stuff to college and pro scouts. This past showcase was his fourth with Perfect Game. His first was the National Underclass Showcase in December of 2007 in Fort Myers, Florida, then he went to the 2008 showcase in California and then the Northeast Sunshine Showcase just a couple a months ago at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank, which allowed him to go to the showcase in Minnesota.

Podlas has also been to a number of college camps as well where he performed for some of the top college programs. He has attended camps at North Carolina State, the University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, Boston College and St. John’s University in Queens. While he just started the process of looking at the colleges he wants to go to, Podlas said he would prefer a college in the Southeast because the weather there allows for a longer and more consistent baseball schedule. Podlas just started fielding phone calls from prospecting college coaches as July 1 was the first day coaches were allowed to start calling recruits.

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Has westhampton ever had a D1 baseball player ever not to mention a pro? lol...
By slamminsammy (104), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 09 11:54 AM
That is a good question - I can only remember two professional football players (Farrell and Jiggetts). Presently, they have a bunch of top runners at Ivy and top tier D1 schools (men and women). Ralph Pepe put alot of kids in top D1 lacrosse programs, including the D2 national chamionship CW Post team this year. Let's see, what else... most sports are represented. I guess you are right, Podlas probably will be the first professional baseball player from Westhampton. What about you?
By William Rodney (544), southampton on Jul 9, 09 2:17 PM