Some of the comparisons were herculean in nature.
When two Major League Baseball scouts had the opportunity to take a look at first baseman Kolton Kendrick of Oak Forest Academy in Amite, they immediately took OFA baseball coach Tony Silam back on a trip in time.
“One scout who was around when (former St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger) Mark McGuire was coming out of high school compared Kolton to him,” Silam said. “Another (scout) was around when (Texas Rangers outfielder) Josh Hamilton was coming out and compared Kolton to him also. Just his raw power in high school have him compared to some pretty remarkable names.”
Kendrick batted .420 with nine homers in his only season at Oak Forest, a member of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. But Major League scouts have expressed supreme confidence in the ability of the 6-foot-3, 220-pound first baseman.
When Major League Baseball conducts its annual draft beginning Monday, there’s a distinct possibility the Southeastern Louisiana signee could have his name called early, with projections ranging between the second and fourth rounds.
“It’s always been a dream growing up, and I thought this day would come,” Kendrick said. “It’s going to be very difficult to pass up playing pro ball if I get drafted in the spots they say I’m going to get drafted.
“All in all, though, I just want to play ball, whether it’s college or pro ball, because I love the game of baseball. And whatever happens is meant to be,” Kendrick said. “But I would love to go ahead and get my pro career started.”
Kendrick completed pre-draft workouts Sunday in Philadelphia, where he worked out for the hometown Phillies, St. Louis, Miami, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Boston.
“He’s got unbelievable power from the left side,” Silam said. “It’s pretty impressive the power he has.”
Kendrick transferred from Loranger High, a Class 3A LHSAA school, to Oak Forest in Amite for his senior year, and there was a steady stream of scouts almost every step of the way.
“It’s been a great experience for our whole team because of the attention he drew from scouts,” Silam said. “Some games we had over 15 scouts just to watch batting practice. There have been a couple of times where we’ve set up batting practice after a game.”
Despite the switch in schools, Kendrick said he continued to face comparable competition, helping Oak Forest to a 22-10 record, district championship and state runner-up finish.
Aside from his lofty batting average and power numbers that also featured 35 RBIs and 14 doubles, Kendrick displayed a keen eye at the plate with 50 walks while striking out only 11 times.
“We played good competition at Oak Forest,” Kendrick said. “We played a lot of great teams.”
Kendrick earned all-district honors and participated in the MAIS All-Star game.
“I knew he was an unbelievable talent and when he got here kind of solidified that,” Silam said. “Not only was he a great player, but a great kid that works extremely hard. We were pleased to have him be a part of the program.”
Before his draft stock went into orbit this spring, Kendrick realized the first of his baseball objectives, signing with Southland Conference regular-season champion Southeastern Louisiana in November.
Kendrick said he’s remained in touch with Southeastern’s coaching staff, who have been extremely supportive of his position.
“They just hope the best for me,” he said. “The coaching staff is first class.”
“He’s in a no-lose situation,” Silam said. “If the situation’s right and a team makes a good enough offer for him to sign, it’s obviously every kid’s dream to play Major League baseball. If that decision doesn’t work out, he’ll go to Southeastern, which is a very good Division I program.”