New Castle News

Sports

July 9, 2014

High School Baseball: New Castle's Gunn gets chance to shine in front of scouts

NEW CASTLE — Joe Gunn will get to impress Major League Baseball scouts later this month.

The New Castle High sophomore was invited to participate in the Mentoring Viable Prospects tournament at Georgia State University’s Pantherville Recreation Complex in Decatur, Ga., from July 17-19.

The tournament is an initiative sponsored by Major League Baseball to keep minorities involved in baseball. Scouts from all 32 Major League Baseball teams and numerous Division I university coaches will be in attendance during the three-day event.

Current major leaguers B.J. and Justin Upton, Brandon Phillips and Jason Heyward played in the tourney during their high school playing days.

“It’s an honor to be mentioned and to have my name brought up with the caliber of players there,” Gunn said. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to play. I’m ready to go down and show what skills I have.

“I tend to think of myself as one of the better players around. I’m not nervous about the competition. I play against some of the best in the country with my summer team. I’m just anxious to see how I do.”

Gunn will play for Team Virginia, which will be managed by the Upton brothers’ father Manny. Team Virginia will open the tournament against Team Chicago at 10 a.m. July 17 and will play its other round-robin game against Rangers Select at 9 a.m. on July 18.

The teams will be treated to an Atlanta Braves game July 18 by Major League Baseball before resuming the tournament with “playoff” games July 19. The tournament banquet will be held at 7 p.m. July 19.

“I was sitting on my bed when the phone rang and it was a number that I wasn’t used to seeing that came up,” Gunn said. “The voice said ‘Is this Joseph Gunn?’ He said he was Manny Upton — B.J. and Justin Upton’s dad — and he was inviting me to play with his team at the tournament. This is a guy that put two guys in the majors. It was a real honor to talk to him.”

Gunn is hoping to learn a thing or two from Manny Upton.

“I’m excited, because he knows what it takes to get to the highest level,” the Red Hurricane said. “He has two sons playing on the same team in the majors. I’m excited to get instruction from him. I might even get to meet his two sons, so I’m excited about that as well.”

Gunn got on Upton’s radar thanks to Colorado Rockies scout Ed Santa.

“I went to a workout of his a year ago,” Gunn said. “He’s been on me ever since and has been getting me onto teams and into other workouts. He’s gotten me a lot of publicity and I credit him for a lot of things in my recruitment. I’m very thankful that he liked something about me and always has something good to say about me.”

Gunn, who played right field, first base and pitched for New Castle coach Paul Malley Jr., batted a team-best .404 with eight RBIs this spring for the ’Canes.

“I thought I did well,” Gunn said. “It was an improvement from last year. I adjusted to the competition. Our section is one of the best in the WPIAL and I was overwhelmed as a freshman. This year, I was able to find my zone and my rhythm at the plate. We have a lot of young guys on the team and if we continue to improve and build on our core players, we’ll have a good future moving forward.”

 

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