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York senior Eric Harp, who attracted some attention from Major League Baseball scouts after a March 31 game against Grafton High School, felt he was simply in the right place at the right time.
Grafton senior pitcher Evan Sperling, a University of Virginia baseball commit, has drawn scouts from MLB teams every game he has started this season.
While the scouts have their radar guns pointed at Sperling as he pitches, they occasionally pick up on other talented prospects.
Such was the case for Harp, a Longwood University commit, who struck out 10 batters during York’s 2-1 win against Grafton.
The six MLB scouts in attendance watched a pitchers duel between Sperling and Harp, who combined to allow four hits and three runs over 13 innings.
So impressive was Harp, a New York Yankees scout hand-delivered a scouting questionnaire to Harp’s father during the game that asks questions about his son’s background, grades and future baseball plans.
Gaining interest from a professional scout surprised Harp, mainly because he did not think he played that well during the game against Grafton.
“I was kind of shocked,” Harp said about receiving a scouting letter from the Yankees. “It’s definitely different. Being recruited by a college scout and seeing them all the time, you’d think you would be used to it by now. But to see a professional team has interest in you is kind of eye-opening.”
While Harp never got a chance to speak to the Yankees scout, who left before the game ended, the scout told Harp’s father to have Harp send back the scouting questionnaire and expect a call “soon.”
As well as receiving a scouting letter, the Yankees scout told Harp’s father some areas Harp could improve his game.
“I definitely need to get stronger,” Harp said. “They said my velocity was high the first three innings, but after that it dropped by 1 to 2 mph.”
After the game, Harp reached out to Sperling to let him know what had happened with the scouts. Sperling, who will likely keep drawing scouts to the Historic Triangle, said he was happy for Harp and hopes scouts in attendance continue to take notice of other talented area baseball players.
“It gives [the scouts] a chance to look at all the players like Eric and myself,” Sperling said. “Even if they don’t see something now, they might see something later down the road in college. It’s good to let people know that we have some pretty good players in the 757.”
Harp, who is 3-0 this season with a 1.08 ERA, reaffirmed his commitment to play baseball at Longwood University and said he tries not to pay the scouts any mind during the game so his on-field performance is not affected.
Unlike Harp, Sperling said he would consider jumping into professional baseball if given the right situation, though he still believes attending UVA would help him reach his end goal of playing in the Majors. For now, his mind is set on helping Grafton make a deep postseason run.
Sperling has noticed an unusual level of rowdiness coming from opposing teams this season, which he attributed to the MLB scouts being in attendance.
“I think a couple of the other teams are more rowdy and try to get in my head,” he said. “I guess they try to go out there and beat Grafton even more because there are scouts there.”
At this point in the season, Sperling said his teammates have adjusted to the scouts watching their games and often joke around about it. For other players around the district who are not used to being scouted, simply getting the opportunity to perform in front of professional scouts can be a daunting, and sometimes disruptive, task.
“They get nervous when they see those radar guns back there,” York Coach Rusty Ingram said about his players performing in front of Major League scouts. “They probably try to overthrow a little bit.”
Grafton Coach Matt Lewellen addressed his team before the season started about the possibility of scouts being in attendance to watch Sperling.
Lewellen said he has tried to downplay the importance of having MLB scouts in attendance with his team, but admitted some players might have been starstruck early in the year.
“Hopefully they’ve gotten used to having scouts in attendance by now,” he joked. “Because it’s going to continue to happen.”
For Harp, the buzz around him as a prospect likely is not over.
A video taken by one of the scouts in attendance during York’s game with Grafton found its way to YouTube on The Baseball Clearinghouse channel, which posts videos of high school and college baseball prospects. Video of Sperling pitching from the same game was also added to the channel.
Humbled by the attention he is receiving as a baseball prospect, Harp encouraged scouts in attendance at future games to look at his teammates and other players around the district so they can also get noticed.
“I feel like we have the players on our team to be scouted,” he said. “There are also some really talented players in the Bay Rivers District. If they were in my situation, they would receive interest, too.”