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It's one thing to see all the lovely photos of baseball equipment on the pages of a magazine, but what are the tools of the trade that players consider most essential? And what else is lurking in those equipment bags?
Baseball America writers asked some of the top high school players in the nation those very questions this summer as they traveled the summer showcase circuit, and here's a sampling of the answers we received:
RHP, Conway (S.C.) HS
Holmes is a 6-foot-2 righthander with a fastball in the mid-90s. His brother Colby pitched at South Carolina, but this Palmetto State native has committed to Florida.
BA: What's the most important stuff in your bag?
Holmes: For me, it would be glove and cleats. I just have one that my travel team gave me. I like getting new ones. We do get a lot of swag (at showcases and all-America games).
BA: Is that the best part of the summer showcase deal?
Holmes: Somewhat, that and the game itself. The games are always fun.
RHP/SS, Milton (Ga.) HS
Cease has a fastball that touches 95 mph, and most pro scouts see his future on the mound. But he's a good enough hitter that he would be a strong two-way player at the college level.
BA: How do you pack? What's in your bag, what are the essentials?
Cease: Cleats, glove, batting gloves and a bat. I haven't in a while, but usually for summer ball, I do hit, so I still pack 'em. Just one pair of cleats. I don't really have any brand loyalty. I like these Under Armour cleats they gave us. I've been using this Wilson glove, but I had a Rawlings glove and then I lost it. It was at PG National and I came home and I didn't have it anymore. It's kind of a whirlwind, flight, bus, it probably just fell out of my bag somewhere.
This is the first year I did showcases. I did a lot of East Cobb last year, but it's better because it's 40 minutes from my house, a lot less travel.
BA: Is there a player you try to emulate?
Cease: Right now my favorite is Matt Harvey. His arm stroke is beautiful.
LHP/1B, Mounds View HS,
At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Hentges has the frame, athleticism and leverage to be a power hitter, but scouts like his lefthanded power better on the mound.
BA: What gear do you bring?
Hentges: We knew we were going to get a lot of gear here, but I still packed a lot of stuff because I wasn't quite sure exactly what we were going to get. I still brought cleats, bats . . .
I don't really have an old favorite. I will use the new cleats, bats, batting gloves they gave us. It's pretty cool, such a big league feel because they gave us so much stuff the first day, it's unbelievable. They gave us a backpack and duffel bag to take them home in too. It's fun, it makes you feel good, knowing that you deserve it is also good. Being here with the guys, good kids, good ballplayers, it's fun.
C/OF/IF, Rancho Bernardo HS, Escondido, Calif.
Jackson has great all-around tools and generates a lot of raw power. He's versatile defensively but will get every chance to stay behind the plate.
BA: You have played catcher, outfield and third base. How do you keep up with it all?
Jackson: I do have three gloves, an infielder's glove, outfielder's glove and catcher's glove. The catcher's mitt I'm using right now is probably I want to say a year and a half, two years old. It's crazy how much I take care of my gloves. Every time I play, if it's dirty, I'll take glove conditioner and clean it, condition it back up. It's like a kitten.
I still have my first glove, I think I have all my gloves I've ever used. I have a box full of gloves, I just put all of them in there and keep them for sentimental value.
I do remember my first time breaking one in. There have been a couple of instances where you have to look at it like, if I don't use it and it just sits, and I see like for example my cousin, he loves baseball, he's going to be a freshman, if he needs a glove or is looking for a new one, it's a lot more useful in his hands than sitting in my closet. So as much as gloves are sentimental, sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture, and I get to keep it in the family.
I didn't bring any catcher's gear (to the Under Armour All-America Game) because Under Armour provides us with that, but I brought stuff like bats, gloves, Evoshield elbow guards, sleeves, compression sleeves, little things like that, that if I didn't have or if I question are we going to be receiving them, I want to feel comfortable, so those are things I feel like I have to have.
OF, Cypress Ranch HS,
Martin is a speedy player who can handle all three outfield positions, and he shows flashes of power at the plate. He's fueled by an unlikely source.
BA: What do you have to have in your equipment bag?
Martin: I always bring a pack of Sour Patch Kids to every game, the watermelons. For some reason, ever since I was younger and my grandma gave them to me, I have to have them in my bag. Even if I don't eat them, it's like good luck for me. When I pitch, I have to eat two before every inning. It's like a mojo I guess. I definitely do not brush my teeth during the game.
BA: Do you have any strong preferences when it comes to gear?
Martin: I'm not too picky, I don't have a mojo with any of my gear, but I do have lucky underwear.
OF, Lee's Summit West HS,
Lee's Summit, Mo.
Harrison is an athletic, two-sport standout who has committed to play both baseball and football (as a wide receiver) at Nebraska. On the diamond, he's an outfielder with speed and power potential.
BA: What is that you always make sure is packed in your equipment bag?
Harrison: I bring socks, I wear kind of weird socks, but other than that I don't have anything like that.
I like the same glove, my Marucci glove, they just started to make them, but I like it a lot. I like to bring the same glove and bat. I don't have any football gear with me, I don't mix.
SS, American Heritage HS,
Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
Ramos grew up in South Florida but has roots in Colombia. He is one of the best prep defensive players in the nation, with a strong arm and smooth actions at shortstop.
BA: What's your most important piece of gear?
Ramos: My baseball glove is most important to me. All my gloves, wherever I go I take a bat, but I love the infield. If I make the major leagues it's going to be playing the infield, my defense. The first thing I pack is my baseball glove. Every time I go to the field I put a blessing on it. I say, "God, all the things I do today, I do because of you."
All my gloves are sacred. If my hand has been in a glove, I will never give it up. If I have a brand new glove and my hand has not been in it, I may give it to you, but if my hand has been in it, it is my glove. I have a lot of gloves, maybe 30. I get a lot of new ones, it's my passion. Edgar Renteria gave me a glove, that's my favorite glove. Renteria Renteria! I prefer him to O-Cab. My cousin is a Colombian pitcher, Julio Teheran, we are first cousins.