Texas Prospect Combines Tools, Grinder's Mentality
The term "baseball player" is used frequently by scouts when describing a prospect, though it has more of a figurative definition than the obvious literal one.
Anyone seen by a scout is, in fact, a baseball player, but when prospects are labeled as such, it's meant to describe their style of play. They are the grinders. The ones with dirty uniforms. They might not have a standout tool, but scouts grow to love them because of how hard they play the game or the work they put into getting better.
Trevor Story is a baseball player. Scouts and coaches laud his work ethic and hard play. Yet he also has tools that attract attention on their own. A shortstop at Irving (Texas) High, Story is a good defensive player with above-average speed and arm strength.
"To see the things he does at shortstop, he'll surprise you out of nowhere," Irving head coach Jay Malone said. "Defensively, he's very good at his craft. He gets outs for us that would normally be base hits. In that respect, he gets us out of jams."
Irving's current senior class has played together since they were freshmen on the junior varsity team, but Story got a small taste of varsity ball late in the season. Malone brought him up for a couple of games and admits that leaving him on JV may have been a mistake.
"The first pitch he sees, he hits a double to deep center," Malone said. "I think he went 4-for-8 in the games I had him."
Malone got to see more as Story and his sophomore teammates moved up the following season. That was also the year that Story's talent began to emerge. As a freshman, he was a three-sport athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. He stopped playing basketball after his freshman year, and a football injury during his sophomore year helped him make up his mind to focus on baseball.
"I broke my left collarbone," Story said. "It was on a quarterback keeper. Three guys got me and drove me into the ground. Baseball was my future, definitely my favorite sport."
Story recovered fine and had a remarkable sophomore season in baseball, winning his district's offensive player of the year award. Since then, pitchers haven't given him much to hit, a frustrating situation for a lot of high school prospects, but Story has exercised a lot of patience and worked to improve his hitting even when he's off the field. A member of the Dallas Patriots, a summer travel team, Story works with Brandon Sherard and credits him for helping him continue to progress at the plate. Sherard has seen the improvement firsthand, but hardly seems surprised.
"He comes in every week and never misses a day," he said. "He shows up on time. He's a hard worker and just gets after it."
Work Never Stops
Story leads by example on the field, but his dedication doesn't stop when he steps off of it. When practice is over, he does drills with his brother for anything he needs to work on. On the weekends, he typically has a game on Saturday, but will take extra batting practice on Sundays. Story's physical strength—Malone says his body is muscle on muscle—shows up in all aspects of his game and now he's polishing his skills.
He has a quick bat and a knack for putting the barrel on balls. That has allowed him to be a good hitter at the high school level, but he has worked hard with Sherard to make sure it will translate to the college or pro game.
"He has probably the quickest hands I've seen," Sherard said. "But he never had a game plan or approach in the box. He's understanding what it takes to hit at the next level. He's working on staying back, going the other way and understanding pitch recognition.
"He stays behind the ball well. His bat gets on plane and stays there. It's unreal to see his bat in slow motion."
Louisiana State recruited Story right after winning a national title, and that was all he needed to hear to make his commitment. But he may not make it to Baton Rouge if things fall right in June's draft. Story could hear his name called in the first three rounds thanks to his skill set at a premium position.
"Going in, he stays at shortstop," a National League scout said. "He has a good range and a plus arm. He's a below-average power guy for pro ball, but he's a good hitter. He has bat speed and puts the bat on the ball."
Story said he hasn't given the draft a lot of thought yet, as playoffs in Texas are about to start. Wherever he finds himself in the fall, the team will be happy to have him and share Malone's feelings on Story's dedication to the game.
"He's the type of kid, I'm extremely happy that he chose baseball," Malone said. "Had he stayed with basketball, he'd be our starting point guard. He'd be the QB in football. He's the type of individual you want to be around. There is zero jealousy among him in school."