David Phelps? Alan Phelps laughs. David Phelps will be fine. It's Alan's blood pressure that the family's trying to keep from boiling over.
"I talked to him a little bit (Wednesday)," Alan said of son David, the former Hazelwood (Mo.) West star who's slated to make his first major-league start tonight against the Kansas City Royals. "He's a pretty even-keeled person. Not a whole lot upsets him."
Papa Phelps, on the other hand, is getting a bit skittish. You'd blink funny, too, if your kid was pitching for the New York Yankees, and toeing the rubber less than four hours from his childhood home.
"Oh, yeah. Nervously excited. But as a father, you're always nervous," said Alan, one of a cadre of 20 or so family members and friends expected to be in attendance at Kauffman Stadium this evening. "It hasn't sunk in yet that he's starting for the Yankees. Even though I've seen him pitch a few times, it still hasn't sunk in yet."
The Phelps clan has been on a roll lately. David and wife Maria welcomed their first child, a daughter, on March 22. Shortly thereafter, the 6-foot-3 right-hander got the call to go north with the big club, initially slotted as long-relief help. Then came last weekend, which brought word that he was the first choice to replace struggling Freddy Garcia in the starting rotation.
"One of his concerns, early on, was, 'Am I going to get a good opportunity?' He was concerned because the Yankees will spend the money and go out and sign a free agent," recalled Butch Beiter, David's prep baseball coach. "If they've got a need, they have got a tendency to go buy (a pitcher). But then I got to talking with Alan, and Alan knew more than I did. He said the Yankees just don't rush their pitchers. So he's got a good opportunity there. And I think he'll do well."
A 14th-round draft choice out of Notre Dame in 2008, David's posted a 3.57 ERA over his first six appearances, allowing just 12 hits and fanning 14 in 17 2/3 innings. His four-seam fastball pops in the mid 90s, his two-seamer cracks the low 90s, and his curveball bites like a mosquito.
"I'm trying as much as I can to take it like it's any other game, but it's a big deal for me," The 25-year-old hurler told the New York Daily News. "It's going to be awesome to have family there. Hopefully, I'll go out and do what I've been doing."
With Andy Pettitte expected to rejoin the rotation later this month, the younger Phelps is probably just holding serve until the cavalry arrives. But if he can go out there and put on a show, who knows?
"It's hard to explain," Alan said. "Anything David can put his mind to, David's going to be able to do. He's that type of kid."
He's the type of kid who respects authority, even when authority goes out and shoots itself in the foot. Beiter likes to tell the story about this time at districts, when Phelps was an underclassman and would have to be pushed up a day or two ahead of his normal rest in order to take the mound. Beiter was ready to do it -- "We didn't have a whole lot behind him at that point in time," the coach said -- but he was talked out of it by his assistants.
Sure enough, West High got beat.
"I took a bunch of grief over it," Beiter said. "And Dave went to bat (for me). I guess he got online and made some comments (explaining that) 'It was a team decision, and I support it, and I support Coach Beiter.'"
David became one of the most storied arms to come out of one of the area's most storied programs — Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan prepped at West, a school that also counts former big-leaguers Al Nipper and Morgan Burkhart among its notable alumni. As a teen, David was driven like a '79 Pinto. Honor Roll. National Honor Society. Two letters in basketball. All-state in baseball. He even worked part-time as an agate clerk in the sports department of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, helping to enter in prep stats.
"He's kind of what I call the All-American Boy," said Jerry Daniels, grand poobah at Balls-n-Strikes, a baseball and softball instruction school in greater St. Louis, and one of David's early mentors. "He's the one who had the (good) ACT scores, he went on to Notre Dame, he was just that kid. Never in trouble. Just a class act."
The youngest of two boys, David was also pushed by sibling rivalry. Older brother Michael had a rocket arm, too, eventually pitching at Central Missouri and getting drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
"You give him a box of building blocks, he's over the corner building something. He didn't need attention like Mike did," Alan noted. "But David probably is where he is because of Mike. There are other people involved, but a lot of it is (that) he wanted to be like his older brother and do (things) like his older brother and outdo his older brother.
In high school, Mike wore No. 6. David chose 16. When people would ask the younger Phelps why he went with that particular number, he'd smile and reply: "Because it was one better than six."
"They always had a rivalry," Alan said. "It was a fun rivalry.
"David was one of the skinniest little kids you'll see in your life. When I see him on the mound, that's what I see. That skinny little kid — how did he even come to this?"
Alex Jasiek of Burroughs delivers a pitch during Monday's game against MICDS at Burroughs. (Paul Kopsky | STLhighschoolsports.com)
LADUE • Sophomore hurler Alex Jasiek took the John Burroughs baseball team on a roller coaster outing on Monday.
Jasiek was both brilliant and scattered and the host Bombers were both patient and timely at the plate to earn a 8-4 victory over MICDS.
Jasiek went all seven innings to pick up his second win of the season.
“I didn't have my best control,” Jasiek said. “I had seven or eight walks, which isn't very good. But the defense held us and we got to their bullpen, which was key. Their starter was efficient. We kept battling after we got down early. I thought it was great game, though.”
Jasiek fanned 11 on the day and scattered eight hits.
“It wasn't my most efficient game,” he said. “Keeping the pitch count down was my goal, but a win is a win.”
Time and time again, Jasiek located his fastball in key moments and even his off-speed pitch was keeping the Rams guessing.
“He might not had his best stuff, but we went down the road with him,” John Burroughs coach Andy Katzman said. “He's pitched a lot against these guys. He threw twice against them last year and I really wanted to get him the complete game if we could. It was just a gutty performance that represents the type of athlete that he is.”
Burroughs, No. 6 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings, improved to 9-5. Ninth-ranked MICDS dropped to 6-7.
“It was good for us to piece together some good at-bats,” Jasiek said. “We've had a hard time scoring runs this season. All of the games that we have played have been really close. It was good to get this one.”
MICDS went ahead 3-1 in the fifth inning. With one out, Adam Putnam was plunked by a Jasiek pitch with the bases loaded. With two gone, a first-pitch ball in the dirt allowed Collin Palmer to score to make it a two-run game.
The Bombers chased MICDS starter Kai Rebmann in the bottom of the fifth. Davey Holmes cranked a two-run single to tie the game. When Steve Frank took the mound for the Rams, a single and a walk loaded the bases. Nick Beaulick drew a base on balls to score Holmes to make it 4-3. Sam Hefler drew a full-count walk with two gone to put the Bombers up 5-3.
Trey Baur's sacrifice fly in the sixth inning cut the MICDS deficit to 5-4 but the Bombers made sure they had insurance. In its half of the sixth, Burroughs took advantage of four walks given up by MICDS pitching and scored three runs on no hits.
“I knew we needed more,” Katzman said. “The guys were taking some pitches and hitting some good pitches.”
The two teams will meet again at 1 p.m. Sunday at Busch Stadium. Prior to the rematch, Burroughs will face Ladue, Lutheran South and Priory this week.
MICDS will be at Lutheran North on Tuesday before hosting No. 1 Westminster on Thursday.
Current Mizzou players take time for photos with 9U Prospects at Mizzou/Illini game.
Three former Prospects players (Mach, Champaign & Sommerfield), currently playing for University of Missouri, take time for a photo with the 9U St. Louis Prospects prior to the Mizzou/Illini game at Busch Stadium.
Dupont Steps Up then Out
Sophomore pitcher Cole DuPont of Lafayette allowed just two runs on five innings in a complete-game 6-2 victory Wednesday over visiting Eureka. (Rick Graefe | STLhighschoolsports.com)
WILDWOOD • Cole DuPont wanted this one.
The Lafayette sophomore right-handed pitcher was ready for his assignment against Eureka on Wednesday and turned in the best performance of his young varsity career.
DuPont allowed just two runs and scattered five hits over seven innings in a complete-game victory as the host Lancers topped the Wildcats 6-2 in a Suburban West Conference contest.
“I’d say it’s probably about the most excited I’ve ever been for a baseball game,” he said.
DuPont (1-1), who earned his first varsity win, didn’t show it. He just kept pounding the strike zone with his fastball, curve and change-up — 60 of his 88 pitches were strikes — and kept a Eureka squad that was averaging 7.2 runs per game guessing at what was coming next.
“He kept his change-up over the plate and kept them swinging at that and off-balance,” Lafayette coach Scott DeNoyer said. “It’s the best pitch in baseball. I think once he established that and got some confidence with that, I think it’s made a difference. Defensively, we were making the plays behind him and we came up with some big hits when they gave us opportunities to score.”
Lafayette (7-5 overall, 3-0 in league play), which had lost two of its last three games, played a strong game defensively behind DuPont with just two errors. The Lancers turned a 4-6-3 double play in the sixth inning — started by second baseman Tyler Manne snaring a hot shot — that was a thing of beauty. Left fielder Kyle Hanlon (three singles, RBI) and catcher Adam Echele (two singles, two RBIs) led Lafayette’s seven-hit attack.
“I just can’t thank my team enough,” DuPont said. “They came through with some big defensive plays. That big four-run inning, that was huge. That really got us going.”
The No. 3 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings, Eureka (7-3, 0-1) had a seven-game win streak snapped with a loss to Blair Oaks in Jefferson City on Saturday and struggled defensively on Wednesday with three costly errors that led to runs.
“As of today, the only people that beat Eureka is Eureka, really, in my opinion,” Wildcats coach Jim Daffron said. “It just comes down to defense. Every game we’ve lot so far we’ve given up a lot of errors. We’ve been trying to work really, really hard on that. Just this past weekend in Jeff City we did the same thing. We let up five errors, six unearned runs. Same thing today. You have to make plays. You have to play defense. Especially when our pitching staff is as good as it is this year. It’s very simple. You have to make the routiners. Lafayette did that and we didn’t, so they won.”
Eureka left-hander Aaron Schnurbusch (2-2) took the loss after allowing six runs on five hits over five innings. He struck out 10 batters and walked four (one intentionally). Schnurbusch also paced the offense with two of his team’s five hits.
“He pitched good enough to win today,” Daffron said. “We didn’t make plays behind him. We beat ourselves.”
Eureka took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after third baseman Sean Murley reached on an error and scored on a two-out single by shortstop Trevor Fain.
Lafayette answered with two runs in the third with an RBI groundout by Manne and a two-out RBI single to right field by Hanlon that the right fielder appeared to lose track of in the sun.
The Lancers scored four runs with two outs in the fourth inning following an error on the infield. Designated hitter Connor Walk drew a walk and scored on a wild pitch. Third baseman Evan Aliano, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on an error. Shortstop William DuPont and Manne, who reached on an intentional walk and the error that scored Aliano, respectively, scored on a two-run single by Echele to make it 6-1.
Eureka got one run back when center fielder Josh Stephens hustled to score from second base on an RBI infield single by Schnurbusch with two outs. But the Wildcats would not score again as Cole DuPont allowed just one single the rest of the way.
“Today was just a great day,” DeNoyer said. “He’s been working his butt off. The kid deserved a little success. He’s put in so much time. I’m happy to see somebody who works as hard as does come out on the winning end.”
9U Rawlings Prospects Win the Lenz Field Play the Turf Tourney!
The 9U Rawlings Prospects (Whiteside) won their second tourney of the year. The team battled cold weather and great competition to win 1st place in the 9U Major/AAA division at the Lenz Field Play The Turf USSSA Tourney.
9U Rawlings Lightning clinches Majors Division Championship at the Spring Classic 2!
The Rawlings 9U Lightning outscored their opponents 46-7 as they went on to win their 4th straight tournament championship!
8U Rawlings Indians Take 1st Place in St. Louis County Tournament
Rawlings St. Louis Elite 13U Take 1st in Ballwin Bonfire Preseason Tourney
The Elite won the championship game 13-2 over the Ellisville Hit Men. The Elite previously finished 2nd place in the Game 7 Spring Smackdown Tournament in Chesterfield, losing 9-6 in the championship game to the Missouri Longhorns. The Elite have started the season with a 5-2-1 record.
Rawlings Tiger Brad Reiker K's 16 in Complete Game Shoutout Win
Brad Reiker struck out 16 Owensville Dutchmen en route to a 5-0 win for the Eagles on Monday night.
Brad Reiker (Photo by Extra Innings Photography)
Sullivan is now 4-1 on the season after the junior lefty’s dominating performance. Sullivan has shut out their last two opponents and have allowed just two runs in their last three games.
Reiker got all he would need with a run in the first, a run in the third, two in the fifth and one in the seventh.
Sullivan took advantage of Owensville’s errors. They had just two earned runs off Dutchmen starter Alex Moritz.
The Eagles are at home on Thursday against Hermann.