Local players from the Bradenton / Sarasota area are making headlines. The Bradenton Herald recently featured six local players training at the IMG Academy baseball program. A sample from the linked article.
It was typical sunny day in Florida, and the ping of metal bats hitting balls filled the air.
Something's different at IMG Academy this year, though: Six players born and raised in Manatee or Sarasota counties are playing for a program known for attracting talent from out of state.
Manatee and Sarasota counties have tradition-rich high school baseball programs, with Lakewood Ranch (2003) and Sarasota (2007) winning state championships this decade. So how does IMG Academy School attract local talent? Sharp said IMG Academy's atmosphere is similar to a college environment.
The players are in class for four hours a day, then they hit the practice field for a few hours, then they head to fitness training and mental conditioning. The players' diets and workout regimens are monitored.
Casey Mulholland and John Ryan Murphy skipped out on public high school and enrolled in IMG Academy in ninth grade.
Mulholland, a junior RHP/OF, said he attended a couple of camps in the seventh grade and fell in love with the program.
âSeeing the training and knowing the coaches really made me want to pursue baseball,â said Mulholland, who lives in East Manatee and was slated to attend Lakewood Ranch. âBaseball, school and IMG really consumes your life. It's like a college, and it's definitely worth it. Through three games, Murphy, a senior, has put up the most impressive statistics. He is 7-for-13 with two home runs, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases.
âI thought (coming here) would give me the best baseball chance for the future,â said Murphy, who would have played for Manatee. âI would not have gotten the training at a high school that I've gotten here. And the education here is underrated. I believe I definitely made the right decision.â
"Cal is a physically, dominating player at the high school level who will be equally as strong in college. All phases of his catching ability - arm strength, receiving, and handling a pitching staff set him apart as one of the best catchers in the state." - Head Coach Kevin Sharp
"Nick is a hard-working student-athlete whose game rises in big situations. A tireless competitor, not too many can match Nick's fire in games and work ethic in practice." - Head Coach Kevin Sharp
"Casey is one of the most talented players in the class of '10 and has not even reached his ceiling on maturing and overall ability. A true duel-threat on the mound and in the outfield, Casey is a prospect that will be deserving a lot of worthy attention by college coaches and Major League scouts in the upcoming years." - Head Coach Kevin Sharp
"John Ryan is one of the top players in the country in the class of '09. He has all of the tools to be a largely, successful player at the next level. His arm strength, hitting ability, and baseball awareness are second to none in our Academy, as well as in the entire Sunshine State." - Head Coach Kevin Sharp
"Tyler is an exceptional athlete who can be asked to play anywhere on the field. His physical strength is abundantly present in the batter's box and on the base paths. One of our team leaders, he sets the bar high for our whole team on the field and in the weight room." - Head Coach Kevin Sharp
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