Former Warrior playing in wood bat league
DANVILLE, IL. — Growing up, millions of boys across the nation can't wait until school is out so they can play summer baseball. And former Lakeside Warrior and current LSU catcher Jackson Slaid is no different.
This summer, Slaid is doing just that as he is playing for the Danville Dans of the Prospect League in Danville, Illinois.
The Prospect League is a 14-team summer collegiate wood bat league that features players from colleges all over the nation. There are teams located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.
The league provides a summer baseball program for eligible college players to give them experience using a wood bat in a competitive atmosphere. It also provides a venue to allow MLB Scouts to watch collegiate prospects using wood bats against live pitching in competition.
Slaid is not only playing in the Prospect League, he is thriving in it. He is currently 13th in batting average and was recently named to the West Division All-Star Game. Slaid is hitting .348 (23/66) with four doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs in 20 games.
Playing so far away from home is something Slaid is getting used to, but a recent visit from his parents helped ease things.
"Its a different kind of experience for me, but as far as the baseball part its the same game I've played my whole life," he said. "My parents actually just came up. We were on the road in Dubois County, Indiana and they surprised me so its nice to spend some time with them."
While playing in the league, players stay with host families. Slaid is staying with the O'Shaughnessy's and has enjoyed it despite one glaring difference between them.
"My host family is great, and they take good care of me," he said. "Unfortunately for them they are Notre Dame fans so I'm always giving them an earful about how my Tigers beat up on Brady Quinn and the Irish a few years back. But they are Cowboy fans so they have that going for them at least."
The players that make up the Prospect League all have hopes of playing and staring in college and pro baseball, and that makes for quite a competitive atmosphere.
"Its definitely a competitive league," Slaid said. "There are kids from all over the country ranging from sophomores to seniors in college, so you can never take a night off mentally. You have to prepare for each game like it is a big one."
Slaid only appeared in a handful of games last year for the Tigers, so he's hoping his outstanding summer play will open some eyes in Baton Rouge.
"I think getting game reps everyday is huge for me, especially as a hitter," he said. "There's no better way to practice hitting than live at-bats. The summer is a great opportunity to prepare for the fall and I need to prove to myself this summer that I am capable, so that I have my confidence once I'm back in Baton Rouge competing for a spot."
Speaking of LSU, Slaid misses his Tiger teammates but has fit in well with his current Dan teammates as well.
"They're all great guys," he said. "It's cool meeting people from different parts of the country and getting to know them. We have a good time ragging each other about where the other one is from so its fun."
Slaid and his teammates will be in action tonight as they host the Lorain County Ironmen.
If you would like to follow Slaid's summer season, log on to www.danvilledans.org.