It’s hard for people to believe that Tommy Dolan just finished his freshman year at Incline (Incline Village, Nev.).
His mother, Jain, always brings his birth certificate to baseball games to prove to skeptical parents and opposing coaches that her son is indeed the same age as his peers.
“When he goes to eat, he gets the college special,” said Jain, laughing.
But really, it’s no joke -- Dolan will only be a sophomore this fall and won’t turn 16 until November. Though, it’s easy to see why observers don’t believe him based on his size (he’s already 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds) and skills on the diamond.
On Monday, he was one of the youngest competitors to take part in the Cincinnati Reds Area Code Baseball Games regional tryout in Henderson, Nev. And this past season, the first baseman/right-handed pitcher hit .441 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in 25 games and struck out 51 in 38 innings, with opponents hitting just .178 against him.
In his first varsity game, which came against North Tahoe (Calif.), Dolan went 1-for-2 with a double and a pair of RBIs. He then proceeded to hit three homers in his first five games.
“I didn’t feel a ton of pressure,” said Dolan. “I knew as a freshman that not a ton was expected of me. I wanted to break those expectations.”
Incline assistant coach Daryl Powell, who’s been coaching Dolan since Little League, noticed Dolan was a cut above his peers early on, especially from a size standpoint on the Little League mound.
“He was so big that from that distance, it was almost like he was shaking hands with you when he let the ball go,” said Powell.
“He’d throw so fast he’d scare the kids, and even the umps would jump,” added Dolan’s father, Steve.
Dolan also struck fear into opponents with his power at the plate — Steve watched a 12-year-old Tommy blast one over the scoreboard during an all-star game.
So neither Powell nor Dolan’s family was surprised by Tommy’s success on varsity this past season.
In one game against Portola (Calif.), Dolan hit a home run 360 feet to dead center straight through a 30 mph wind.
“The first base ump looked at me and said, ‘I didn’t think anyone could hit one out of here today,’” recalled Powell.
Despite Dolan’s talents, he’s found it hard to get noticed, based primarily on where he lives. Incline Village is roughly 30 miles south of Reno and isn’t exactly a launching pad for MLB prospects.
The fact he got invited to an Area Code Baseball regional as a freshman says as much about his skill as it does the support he’s received from his family.
His mom and dad have logged thousands of miles on their cars bringing Dolan to tournaments and workouts. His mom drove him nearly 500 miles to the ACB regional in Henderson.
He also has a big fan in his older sister, Grace, an all-state softball player and state champion skier who this fall will attend the University Oregon, where she plans on studying to become a sports agent.
So will Grace be Tommy’s agent when he’s eligible for the MLB draft come June 2015?
“Hey, why not?” said Grace, laughing. “You never know.”
In addition to his family’s support, Dolan has also used a tremendous work ethic to put himself in position to succeed. If he’s not working out at the gym or at home, he’s taking 250 swings per day into a net at his house. When he’s not doing that, he’s training with the likes of Reno-based pitching coach Joey Davis.
“He knows he’s got potential, but he’s eager to learn and get better,” said Davis.
Dolan also is well aware that his baseball dreams might not work out. And he’s got a pretty good backup plan in case they don’t — he wants to study to be an engineer.
He’s so enamored with the field that he flew to North Carolina following the Reds tryout so he could take part in an engineering camp at Duke University.
“I’ve always loved building stuff since I was younger, and I think there’s no better way to do that than in engineering,” said Dolan. “I want to go into mechanical engineering because I love to figure out how things work.”
Now if only people could figure out how to get him out.
Area Code Baseball Regional Recaps
New York Yankees Tryouts
Saturday, June 9 at Bentley University, Waltham, Mass.
Sunday, June 10 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, Staten Island, N.Y.
Monday, June 11 at Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pa.
By Carl Stoeber, ESPNHS
The Yankees had tryouts in three states on three consecutive days, with scouts seeing 325 of the top players in the Northeast.
The Massachusetts stop included more than 100 scouts at the Bentley fields. Practically everyone stopped to watch when pitcher Ryley MacEachern of Salisbury School (Salisbury, Conn.) stepped on the mound. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior looked comfortable on the mound and showed the form that helped him go 6-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA this spring.
“I don’t like fooling around with an 0-2 count,” he said, “I like to challenge batters with my fastball and make them hit it.”
Along with his fastball (two-seam and four-seam), MacEachern impressed onlookers with a curveball, slider and a change.
Others who caught scouts’ eyes at the first Yankees’ stop were two lefties who showed power in their bats during BP — sophomore catcher Kyle Devin of Lynn Classical (Lynn, Mass.) and Lynn English (Lynn, Mass.) junior pitcher/first baseman Ben Bowden.
The second tryout took place in Staten Island, N.Y., and was highlighted by a group talented infielders, none smoother than Matt Vogel of Patchogue-Medford (Medford, N.Y.) and Stephen Alemais of All Hallows (New York). Vogel comes out of Long Island, where he says he doesn’t generally get the chance to play with the other talented athletes in his area.
“Long Island and the Northeast aren’t really known for their baseball, but the guys out here today proved different,” said Vogel, who has committed to South Carolina.
Alemais, a Tulane commit, is teammates with Vogel on the South Florida Bandits.
“My goals this summer are to play at the Area Code Games in August and make the Perfect Game All-American (Classic),” he said. “I really just want to get better this year and have some fun.”
Catchers and big men were the theme at the third tryout in Allentown, Pa.
“We want to bring the beef to Long Beach” said lead Yankee Area Code scout Matt Hyde. “We are putting a team together of major league prospects, guys that look and act the part, guys that are ready to play at the next, next level.”
Two athletes who stood out in Allentown were junior Conner Simonetti of Fairport (N.Y.) and junior Jonah Heim of Amherst Central (Amherst, N.Y.).
Simonetti had the opportunity to show off his athleticism and versatility by making solid throws from right field and picking it well at first. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder showed an effortless swing from the left side.
“My goals for the summer are to find a good college to play at and hopefully turn some heads,” said Simonetti, whose top schools right now are Rhode Island, Richmond and Miami.
One athlete that would fit in on just about any team is Heim. Seldom do you hear of a catcher going a whole season without a single runner trying to steal on him, but when you watch Heim make throws to second base it all makes sense. He’s quick and accurate and with a 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame he could definitely fill out in the next year or so to become one of the top prospects in the country.
Heim is a switch-hitter.
“My goal this summer is to become more consistent from the left side of the plate,” he said. “Right now I’m more comfortable as a lefty, but I really feel I have more power swinging from the right.”
Washington Nationals Tryout
Sunday, June 10 at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
By Andrew Drennen, ESPNHS
The Nationals' only regional tryout was held in a pretty special place — Nationals Park, where the MLB team plays.
Featuring players from the Southeast, the workout included freshman outfielder Andrew English of American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), who showed a good arm with the ability to throw the ball on a line. American Heritage is No. 1 in the POWERADE FAB 50.
Junior Joe Roberts of Hammond (Columbia, S.C.) had one of the strongest arms of the position players, with scouts commenting on how well the ball came out of his hand and how he stayed on top of his throws.
Behind the plate, Justin Morris of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) blocked the ball well and recorded 2.0-2.1 second pop times on his throws to second.
Cincinnati Reds Tryouts
Saturday, June 9 at Grand Canyon University, Phoenix
Monday, June 11 at College of Southern Nevada, Henderson, Nev.
Wednesday, June 13 at Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo.
By Andrew Knepper, ESPNHS
The Reds held their first tryout at Grand Canyon University, where they found a pair of middle infielders in Riley Unroe from Desert Ridge (Mesa. Ariz) and Jamie Westbrook from Basha (Chandler, Ariz). Both players have plus speed and great infield arms. They also had great batting practice sessions, spraying the ball all over the field while showing good pop.
The best hitting prospect was Cody Bellinger of Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.). Standing in at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, Bellinger has your prototypical sweet, left-handed swing with good power. He has a lot of room to grow and can easily throw on 15-to-20 pounds down the line.
One of the most intriguing prospects at the tryout was Ryan Castellani of Brophy Prep (Phoenix). A duel-position player, he has what some scouts were calling a first-round type of bat, but what he showed on the mound just could make the same case. He was 90-92 mph with his fastball, 76-78 mph with a breaking ball with decent depth and he threw a solid change at 79-80 mph. It’s rare for an underclassman to make the Area Code Games, but if there were to be one from the Reds region, Castellani would be the first to go.
College of Southern Nevada was host of the second tryout, where the most exciting player was Brennon Lund out of Bingham (South Jordan, Utah). Lund could flat-out fly, showcasing his wheels on a triple that ended in a headfirst slide. He also displayed a great arm, throwing with an exit speed of 91-94 mph, which would equate to a 65-70 grade on the 20-80 scale.
Marcus Doi from Mid-Pacific institute (Honolulu) put on a clinic during his batting practice, leaving the yard four times and hitting. He is also a solid runner and had a good arm during the outfield evaluations.
The top arm of the day had to go to Andrew Church out of Palo Verde (Las Vegas). The right-hander has great arm action and some projectibility in his frame. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he showed great arm strength by throwing his heater at 91-93 mph. He also had a deceptive change at 81-82 mph and was able to spin off a few curveballs at 77-78 mph.
The third and final tryout was held in beautiful Golden, Colo., where pitching ran the show. Duel-position player Brandon Bailey of Broomfield (Colo.) had a solid arm from the outfield and was strong on the mound, throwing his fastball between 90-91 mph.
Denton Keys of Rye (Colo.) was the best left-hander, with a fastball that sat at 87-88 mph with good, late life. He also threw a good curveball at 75-76 mph and a changeup at 77mph.
The best pitching prospect in attendance, Derik Beauprez of Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.), actually didn’t throw at the tryout, choosing to hit and play first because he was pitching the next day in a game. He was outstanding in his batting-practice session and seems like he might make the team as a position player. Reports on his pitching are that he has been up to 93 from the right side and has solid off-speed offerings.