David Dahl Finishes High School Career With A Bang

It's safe to say that outfielder David Dahl finished his prep career in emphatic fashion.

Closing out his senior season for Birmingham's Oak Mountain High in a showdown against rival Thompson High (Alabaster, Ala.), Dahl wanted to finish in style.

"I knew it was going to be my last at-bat of high school, so I told myself I want to go up there and end it on a good note," Dahl said. "(The pitcher) was starting everybody off first-pitch fastball, so I told myself if he starts one out, first pitch, middle-in, I'm just going to try to crush it."

And crush it he did. Dahl turned on an inside fastball and his lefthanded stroke resulted in a towering shot that easily cleared the right-field fence for the last of his three home runs on the season. Also on Dahl's stat line: a .412 average, 11 doubles, three triples and 18 stolen bases. Dahl also led his team in walks even though Oak Mountain head coach Brian Breeze  said teams did not pitch around him.

That home run was just another highlight in a stellar prep career that included grabbing a gold medal at the 18-and-under Pan Am Championship in Cartagena, Colombia, last fall. As a member of USA Baseball's 18-and-under team he hit .316/.391/.386.

Even as a freshman, Dahl's game was on another level.

"You just saw something special in him as a ninth-grader," Thompson head coach Pat Hamrick said. "He probably led the area in hitting as a ninth-grader. SEC-caliber arm. He was never fooled, he was never off-balance. It didn't matter what the count was, he was looking to put a good swing on it."

Now Dahl is likely to be a first-round pick in the draft, potentially getting tabbed among the first 15 selections.

Biding His Time

Of course, talent alone only takes you so far. The combination of determination and perseverance is needed to reinforce raw ability and maximize a player's potential. That shouldn't be a problem for Dahl.

"He's doing what it takes to get ready," Breeze said. "He's very driven. When it comes to work ethic, that's huge. That's what it takes. He's a very driven young man and we wish the best for David."

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that since April 12's regular season finale against Thompson—Oak Mountain failed to make the Class 6-A playoffs—Dahl hasn't rested on his laurels. During a stretch when most seniors are on cruise control, Dahl has opted to spend the waning days of high school working on his game.

"I just really took one or two days off after that last game and then I just started getting to work," Dahl said. "I've just spent time hitting in the cages with my dad. Getting back used to the wood (bats). Long-tossing, working on my arm, trying to get it stronger.

"I probably hit two or three buckets every time I go hit with my dad in the cages. I'll just do a lot of shoulder workouts. Then I'll do medicine ball stuff for my core."

Dahl has also been working with a speed coach in an attempt to improve his speed, which would give him a better chance to stick in center field.

Dahl also has flown to Florida to work out for major league teams looking at him in the first round.

"I worked out for the Yankees. I just hit BP on the field for them. And then I went and worked out for the Pirates," he said. "They took me through what life would be like as a rookie player or whatever. You know, all the stuff they do. I thought I handled it really well. I got a lot out of it."

Dahl likely has more predraft workouts ahead as teams finalize their decisions for June 4, so it would be understandable if he pushes his college commitment to Auburn to the background and focuses on getting ready for pro diamonds. But he says that his pledge to the Tigers hasn't been lost in all the predraft hoopla.

"Right now I'm just thinking about going to Auburn," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen with this year's draft, so we're just thinking about Auburn right now. We're going to see what actually happens, what we're going to do."

Dahl did disclose a flaw, though it isn't anything that takes place between the foul lines.

"I don't eat very healthy," he admitted. "I eat fast food a lot, drink a lot of soda, sweet tea. That's one thing I'm going to have to work on when I go off and start playing."

While his consumption habits may be those of the typical teen, David Dahl's ways on the baseball field are clearly a cut above.

Trey Hickman is a freelance writer based in Birmingham.