GREENFIELD — Drey Jameson isn’t one to invest much stock in can’t do. With dreams of being a big-leaguer, like many his age, the 17-year-old Greenfield-Central junior isn’t hoping for it to happen. He’s laboring to make it possible.
Participating in the Prep Baseball Report Future Games and skill showcase last weekend at Grand Park in Westfield, he took his first major step by standing out among some of the state’s best 2017 and 2018 prospects.
“I went into it thinking I was going to turn heads, honestly,” Jameson said. “I wanted to get on the best approach because my name wasn’t really out there that much because I just started playing summer ball two years ago when I was 16.”
Focused on promoting himself and his talents, Jameson joined the Indiana Bulls, playing for the 16U and 17U teams over the past two travel ball seasons. This summer, he also participated in the 2015 Area Code Games at Grand Park in Westfield, hosted by the Chicago White Sox, and other exposure events.
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However, it wasn’t until the PBR Future Games that his name became a fixture in college scouting reports.
In the timed 60-yard dash, Jameson sprinted the run in 6.59 seconds and posted one of the highest outfield velocities with a throw at 90 mph.
His efforts have paid dividends, netting interest from Notre Dame, Ball State, Indiana, Oklahoma, Eastern Illinois, Cincinnati, Butler and Missouri. He’s also received emails from Texas A&M and South Carolina Upstate.
Liberty University, though, was the first to step up to the plate, offering him the night after he wrapped up his two-day appearance.
In accordance to NCAA policy, Liberty recruiters contacted PBR officials, and the message was passed along to Jameson, who called them back immediately. He was greeted with a scholarship offer and an invitation to visit the campus in the near future.
Onlookers were immediately intrigued by the 5-foot-11, right-hander’s various tools, especially on the mound.
Overall, he pitched one inning each day over the course of three games to help Team Indiana beat Kentucky, tie Virginia/Maryland and beat Illinois. Jameson didn’t allow a hit through both frames, striking out four and walking two batters.
“It’s a short quick, lively arm action that worked 86-89 with the fastball and showed an equally impressive curveball. It too is a swing and miss curveball at 77-78 that seemed to disappear on hitters,” Indiana Prep Baseball Report wrote on Jameson’s skills.
More importantly to the Cougars’ starting center fielder, his fastball was snapping sharply and faster than he’s ever thrown.
“I was determined to break 90 (mph). That was my goal,” he said. “My goals are to be all-state, bench 200 (pounds) and hit 90 by my senior year.”
Jameson reached his first of three a year ahead of schedule.
Confirmed by the Indiana University pitching coaches at Grand Park, he touched 90 on the second day of the showcase. His bench, he says, is still 5 pounds away but steadily climbing along with his dedication to improve.
This fall, Jameson plans to work with Ball State University standout Justin Wechsler, a 2001 fourth-round MLB draft pick, and Mike Shirley, a local baseball instructor and regional scout for the Chicago White Sox, in Anderson.
More of an upper-body thrower at this point, Jameson believes Wechsler and Shirley will assist his mechanics to generate more power through his legs and ultimately increase velocity on his fastball.
Health will give him more foot speed as Jameson admits he wasn’t 100 percent during the PBR showcase.
“The weekend before I messed my ankle up. When I got my physical (on Thursday), it said I had a high ankle sprain,” he remarked. “My best time was actually at Indiana State, and it was a 6.5 flat around the first of July.”
Jameson hurt his ankle while running the bases during an Indiana Bulls game in Missouri. Reacting to a high pop up that was lost in the sun, Jameson advanced from first base and rounded second before stopping abruptly on his right foot, turning his ankle on the bag. He heard a pop and left the game but returned shortly after because “he doesn’t like sitting.”
“I put some ice in my sock and just kept playing. I had a limp, but that game I actually hit a walk-off double,” Jameson said. “I’m still on the ankle.”
As a freshman he started with the varsity in center field after the first few games of the season. The next year, he slotted in as a pitcher, often taking the mound as the “second game, Friday night starter.”
In his first season on the hill, Jameson had a 4-2 record, 51 strikeouts in 37.1 innings pitched and a 2.83 ERA. With a three-pitch repertoire, he throws a change-up, curveball and a fastball, clocked in the upper 80s.
At the plate, he hit .337 with two home runs, 10 doubles, nine stolen bases and 30 runs scored.
Most college recruiters and coaches he’s spoken to want him to pull double duty, pitching and playing the field. Jameson, who came up through the Greenfield Youth Baseball Association playing for Paul Graham, says he’s up to the task.
Despite the recent increase in attention, he is standing firm in one area. Looking to weigh all options over the next year, he won’t decide his commitment until his junior summer.
In the meantime, his offseason continues this month with a showcase in front of Atlanta Braves scouts at “The Corn Crib” at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois. He has another showcase tryout, conducted by Boston Red Sox scouts, in September.
“You’re name doesn’t really get out there during school ball. During summer ball you play in events like Perfect Game and that type of stuff,” he said. “A lot of colleges come out because they have the time. In season, they don’t really have the time because they are in season.
“My dream has always been to become a professional baseball player. I’m just trying to fulfill my dream.”
Following in the footsteps of his favorite current MLB player would be be the epitome.
“I think it would be cool to go to Missouri like Kyle Gibson and follow a legacy that was already set at our school,” Jameson said. “That’s one of my top schools that I plan to look into. I think it would be pretty neat to follow a legacy.”
Club Team: Indiana Bulls
Parents: Salin Jameson and Darryl Stephens
Siblings: Dustin (24), Dylan (22)
Favorite MLB Player: Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins
Favorite MLB club: St. Louis Cardinals
Go-to pitch: “I like to use my fastball and go back to by curveball, but my favorite pitch I don’t throw it because I’m not allowed to. It’s the knuckleball.”
Favorite high school baseball memory: “When I almost threw a no-hitter. I was in the seventh inning with two outs (against New Palestine). A kid hit a little blooper, but it was the best game just because I was close to it. … At that point, I threw 126 pitches.”
What’s your walk-up song: “Fireman” by Lil Wayne
If you didn’t play baseball: “I would play football. I actually did play football. This is the first year I’m not playing. I was a quarterback, wide receiver, safety and on all the special teams.”
What’s your philosophy in life: “Live life to the fullest.”