JUPITER, Fla.—On Saturdays at 8 a.m., Charles King—like most teenagers—is usually sleeping. Even on weekdays, the righthander is rarely up before 9 a.m. thanks to a schedule at Coppell (Texas) High that gives him his first two periods off.
But King knew he wouldn't have that luxury this weekend, with a start for his Dallas Tigers travel team slated for 8 a.m. Saturday morning at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship. So King set a plan in motion: He woke up at 6 a.m. every morning this week to get acclimated to the time. Then Saturday morning, he and his teammates set alarms at 5:30, 5:35, 5:38 and 5:40.
The plan worked. King was up, ready and energized well before game time. By 8:30, he had already hit 95 mph on the radar gun. He was putting on an early morning show.
“This event is probably the biggest tournament of the fall," King said. “Everyone's here, you know, every school, every major league team. It was 8 o'clock, but I was still amped up. I was out there, and I let it loose."
A Texas Christian commit, King is one of the more intriguing righthanded arms in the 2016 class due to his projectable 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame and low- to mid-90s velocity. He's packed on about seven pounds since the start of summer and, in turn, has started to touch 94 and 95 with more frequency.
King sat 93-94 in the first inning of Saturday's 6-3 win against Team Elite Louisville Slugger and still touched 94 in the second inning as well before dipping to 90-92. King's control escaped him at times—he walked five and allowed three runs in 4 1/3—but at his best, he worked the zone with three pitches. Both his slider and changeup live in the low- to mid-80s, and while the changeup needs continued refinement, the slider showed increased length Saturday compared to past outings.
“My slider was more of a cutter this summer," King said. “I worked more on getting on top of it. I punched a couple of guys out on a slider. Changeup was a lot better, too. It got touched up at one point, but it was working a lot better in complementing my fastball.
“I still have a lot of confidence for me for the spring that I can just come out and deal."