Jake Downing worked hard for this.
One of his first appearances for the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series was at the Underclass Combine in Lake Charles back in 2021, and while you could see that the tools were there, the execution wasn’t quite at the level it needed to be at the time.
Fast forward two years later, and the Cal Poly commit has seemingly put it all together.
California 2024 INF/OF Jake Downing (@Jakedowning2024) lacing pitches all over the park with a fluid lefty stroke showing plus bat-speed during our @NB_Baseball @P15Sports @ftrstarsseries Underclass Elite. @calpolystangs commit pic.twitter.com/X5ueLMF6a5
— Future Stars Series West Coast (@fss_westcoast) November 5, 2022
“When I went to Lake Charles, Louisiana to play in the Underclass Combine, as rising sophmore, it was a humbling experience,” Downing said.
“I was surrounded by so much talent that I got in my head and underperformed. I came away from that experience with a renewed drive and determination to come back the following year and prove that I belong. Returning to Lake Charles for the (National Tournaments) the following year, I was named MVP of the tournament and received my invite to the Underclass Elite in Texas. Just the invite was a huge accomplishment and being there was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was able to learn from the most experienced coaches and compete against some of the best talent in the country. I came away from the Underclass Elite not feeling like I belonged, but knowing I did.”
Downing was indeed one of the standouts of last year’s Underclass Elite event in Frisco, and kept that going through to this year’s National Combine, where the five-foot-ten, 165-pound shortstop and center fielder earned high marks for a plus hit tool that gives “very consistent production and reliable bat in lineup” according to the FSS scouting staff.
Still working on all aspects of his game, Downing has taken instruction from the development staff to find a renewed focus on working on his defensive skills as well.
“Based on feedback and scouting reports from the Underclass Elite, the Regional Combine and National Combine, I have been focusing on polishing my defense,” he said. “I have been working with Coach (Anthony) Granato throughout this year and last to sharpen my skills. I have been focused on strength and speed development since returning from the Nashville Combine. I have seen tremendous growth in my tools and cannot wait to show it on the field.”
History, Downing says, is one of his favorite subjects in school. But there isn’t anything he could possibly learn in class that can compare to actually getting to set foot in a location like Fenway Park, one of the most revered venues in all of professional sports.
“While playing at a big-league stadium is every baseball players dream, playing at historic field like Fenway is a different story,” he said. “The Main Event at Fenway provides an opportunity to be a part of history – sitting where legends sat, playing where legends were made, facing down the Green Monster. It is beyond inspiring.”
Downing is looking to deliver an inspiring performance this coming weekend as well, set to show what he can do on the White Team to the major-league scouts and execs on hand.
“More than anything, I hope to show the scouts and executives that I belong by having a thoughtful approach, being a tough out at the plate, swiping bags and putting pressure on the defense,” he said.
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