Young Serrano Transitions With His Father

The second day of USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars featured some solid pitching and mixed in with some known quantities was Kyle Serrano, the son of Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano. A 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthander, the younger Serrano started the day’s final game for NABF—opposite of Chris Oakley, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound righty from New Jersey.

Serrano showed solid arm strength, sitting 88-90 mph and flashed a good changeup in the high 70s with fade. He threw 55 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two.

“I definitely need to work on staying on top of my pitches,” Serrano said. “I’m going to compete as hard as I can on the field. I’m not afraid when I go out there. I work really hard after starts so I can be at my best when I go out there.”

Dave Serrano took the Tennessee job in June 2011 after being the head coach at Cal State Fullerton since 2008. Moving from Southern California to Tennessee can be a difficult transition for a young athlete, but Kyle Serrano wound up at Farragut High in Knoxville, a prominent program that routinely produces Division I and professional prospects and is in Top 25 discussions every year. Serrano was hurt most of the 2012 season with a cracked rib, but he’s back to full health now and had no trouble with the move to the Volunteer State.

“I transitioned pretty well,” he said. “It wasn’t hard at all. I was hurt for most of the season, but it was fun. I like playing for that program.”

Being the son of a well-respected coach has its benefits and Serrano has taken advantage of them since he was a little kid.

“When I was younger, I was always at his practices hearing him speak and talk to guys about stuff,” he said. “He doesn’t get into a lot of details. He keeps it simple. It’s helped a lot being around him.”

Dave Serrano is the manager of the Collegiate National Team and if Kyle makes the first cut for the 18-and-under National Team, he’ll have a chance to play with or against his father in the Prospect Classic next week.

Bouncing Back

One of the more interesting arms to throw on Thursday was lefthander Ian Clarkin of Madison High in San Diego. He has a good frame at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and he hides the ball well with a high leg kick and clean arm action. Hitters had trouble pick the ball up and Clarkin breezed through three innings of work. He walked only one and struck out five, a stark contrast to his outing last week in which he walked several hitters in two innings of work.

Clarkin sat 89-91 and was consistently around the zone and mixed in a good, sharp curveball in the low 70s and a solid changeup that was 79-80. He describes himself as an aggressive pitcher and cites Phillies closer Jonathan Papelpon has his role model, but is mindful that he has some developing to do.

“I’ve been working very hard to get where I am and what I’ve been doing,” he said. “By next year I just want develop more of a power curveball. My curveball is OK, but you can always improve.”

At Madison High, Clarkins was teammates with Corey Oswalt, who the Mets took in the seventh round and signed for $475,000. Oswalt was seen a lot on the showcase circuit in years past as a shortstop and third baseman with big power, but the Mets took him as a righthander because of his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and raw arm strength. He sits 88-90 and touches 91-92, but Clarkin sees more coming.

“He has a very good arm,” he said. “Once he starts using his legs, I expect him to start hitting 95 plus. He’s a big kid. He’s going to be a good pitcher.”

Photo: Kyle Serrano (Alexis Brudnicki)