Just being invited to Troy University for the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Top 120 Showcase is a big deal for high school baseball players. But then to be selected from that group to be a member of Team Alabama for the Southeastern Underclassmen Shootout is an even bigger honor.
That’s exactly what happened to Benjamin Russell’s Cade Brooks, who will represent the Wildcats as one of 25 underclassmen on Team Alabama next week back in Troy.
“It means a lot,” Brooks said. “Only 25 get selected, so it’s a very honorable thing. I take very good honor to it. It’s something I’ve been working for. I’m glad I got selected and it’s a great opportunity for me to be in front of college coaches.”
Brooks is a rising senior for the Wildcats and was selected to the ALBCA Top 120 as a pitcher only. The Top 120 is more of a showcase format, so it is very regulated. Brooks got an opportunity to throw two innings against five batters per inning. He struck out the first three then induced back-to-back popups.
“In the second inning, you start out in the stretch,” Brooks said. “I gave up one hit then got out of that, so it went really good. I threw around 40 pitches, and the curveball was working really well for me. I had that going.”
While the Top 120 is a showcase where players are competing to show off their individual skills, the Southeastern Underclassmen Shootout is game format. Team Alabama competes against the best of the best from Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. The first-round of games will be played Tuesday and Wednesday then teams will be seeded. The top two states will play for gold, the No. 3 and 4 will compete for silver and the bottom two seeds will play for bronze.
Brooks is guaranteed at least one appearance and could get more depending on when his first appearance is. Whether he plays a lot or just a few innings, Brooks is looking forward to playing against some of the top competition in the Southeast.
“Going to Troy (for the Top 120), you were comparing yourself to people around the state; now, it’s five other states,” Brooks said. “You’re getting a bigger sample from around the United States, and these are just six states in America. The competition of the whole world is out there, but these six states are competitive in baseball. It’ll be a great opportunity to see where I’m at.”
In addition to get a chance to play in from of college coaches, Brooks and the rest of the players will take part in classes about arm care and arm strengthening as well as the recruiting process.
“Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and professional coaches will be there to talk to them about what they’re looking for,” said Richy Brooks, Benjamin Russell baseball coach and Cade’s dad. “They’ll tell them about the recruiting process and how many scholarships they have to give. It’s really great information for kids who are overwhelmed by it.”
Although being a part of the SUS is really an opportunity for the individual players to help their game and help them fulfill their dreams of playing baseball at the next level, Cade is also excited about the chance to represent Benjamin Russell on a big stage.
“That means a lot because it gets the school name out there,” Brooks said. “Me and Brett (Pitts) were out there for the Troy (Top 120), and now I’m still putting Benjamin Russell out there for the Southeast Shootout. It’s a great opportunity to represent the school and it should be a lot of fun.”