HEATING UP: Ekness' path to MLB prospect presented by CertaPro Painters
Crazy how the Coronavirus has a ripple effect.
Not talking about life-or-death or any sort of economic devastation, just high school baseball.
The school season was recently cut short by the virus, just when things were getting going.
Take Josh Ekness – a virtual unknown – who has recently exploded onto the scene for The Woodlands.
The 6-foot-4, two-way player that couldn't get on the field for the Highlanders as a junior now finds himself in a drastically different situation.
"It was pretty eye-opening," Ekness, who also scored a 1440 on the SAT, said. "Six months ago, I was just trying to play college baseball. Since the start of the year, several pro scouts have started contacting me."
This is the same kid who couldn't sniff the lineup a year ago?
Ekness played for Allen Baseball Club over the summer. He created a buzz around recruiting circles after hitting 93 mph with three weeks left in the summer showcase season.
He was still a bit of an unknown until The Woodlands' scrimmage season. It doesn't hurt that he has a national recruit behind the plate in Drew Romo (LSU-signee).
"Having Drew here has really helped," he said. "There would be 15 scouts to see him play. I was on the mound and throwing warm-ups and it all started. I could see the radar guns come out and rise up with every pitch. Scouts started contacting me. Drew really helped me get that exposure."
He's been clocked at 95 mph and his bat has also brought attention. He had five home runs in just a handful of games, including a pair of grand slams in back-to-back games.
"I'm kind of 50-50 right now," he said. "If I continue to play long-term, I'm sure they will make me a pitcher-only. But if I go the college route, I'd like to start off being a two-way player.
"Hitting-wise, I was having trouble picking up the ball and the rotation early in the season. I'd just stand in during our bullpens and work on just seeing the ball. It worked. I got pretty hot and at that point you just try and ride the wave. You know you aren't going to stay that hot, but you always want to get that feeling back."
His way to the mound was a bit unconventional as well.
"I quit pitching after being on the freshman team," he said. "I picked it back up going into my junior year, but just wasn't good enough yet. I was just trying to find a position on the team, honestly. I kept growing and getting used to my body. That was hard. I had pretty good velocity but didn't really know where it was going. Once I stopped growing so fast, I could settle in. I started working out a lot and gained about 20 pounds, which also helped my velocity. I went to the Baseball Ranch to work on my mechanics and just kept improving."
Ekness signed with Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas for several reasons.
"One of the major things is that I'm a high-academic kid and they have the degrees I'm interested in – software engineering and cybersecurity," he said. "The coaches were very personable and very involved in the recruiting process. They made it clear that I can start out as a two-way player."
Since the season has been cut short, have scouts seen enough of Ekness to draft him?
"Everything has fallen into place recently," he said. "I have college baseball in my back pocket as I wait and see how high I can get my draft status. It the right opportunity comes up in the draft, I'd gladly take it. If not, I'll play my best in college and try again in three or four years.
"It's all been pretty exciting and has happened so fast. I'm trying to stay level-headed and not get too excited about the future. All I can do is do my best and see where the cards fall."
This content is sponsored by CertaPro Painters.