By Yoram Kerbel
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO – This weekend, LaRon Smith made what can be one of the hardest decisions of a young player’s career – he’s no longer a pitcher.
The Spruce Grove, Alta., native, came to Tournament 12, as an infielder and hurler, but it only took one day to drop one of those jobs.
“I love infielding because it levels me out every time,” he said, outside of the dugout after a workout for pro scouts and college recruiters on Friday. “I love taking ground balls, just having the feeling.”
Smith is playing for Alberta here, giving him the opportunity to showcase skills to the scouts watching in the stands. Not only did Smith make the positional choice, apparently he made it at the right time.
“There’s a few teams here that are interested in shortstops,” said the 16-year-old. “I was really excited when I heard that.”
Scouts come from schools and pro teams all over North America to learn more about potential players for the future. Although shortstops are different in size, says one recruiter, their athleticism is what makes them great at their position.
“When you watch a big league game on TV tonight it’s the shortstops that make the plays,” said an NCAA baseball scout sitting in the stands under the open roof. “Without their athleticism, balls would be getting out of the infield all the time.”
The ability to make those plays to stop the ball from getting out of the infield is important, but there’s a lot more to being a shortstop than that.
“I’m looking at arm strength, how they move around, those would be the two main things,” said the scout, who would not divulge his name.
Smith will be celebrating his birthday when Alberta plays their second game of the tournament on Saturday afternoon against Ontario at the Rogers Centre.