As expected, the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series powered by Program 15 hosted yet another successful regional combine this past Sunday, this time at the Philadelphia Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy in Philadelphia, PA.
The event, which was split between the Ryan Howard Training Center itself and the adjoining outdoor field, went off without a hitch and was extremely well-received by the nearly 50 players in attendance. The players were split into two groups, with most pitchers attending the morning session.
Pennsauken, NJ’s Daviel Fernandez (shown above) was among some impressive new arms to the Future Stars Series, but some familiar faces certainly didn’t disappoint either. Boston College commit Sean Hard, only a few months removed from a dominant outing at International Week at Fenway Park as well as Virginia Tech commit Ryan Kennedy were among those who took the mound in the city of brotherly love.
“I started with (the) Future Stars (Series) a while back, and I’ve been through every event you can think of; Regional Combine, National Combine, all the way to Fenway,” Hard, a 2021 grad, said during a live Twitter interview in Philly.
“(CEO) Jeremy (Booth) and the Future Stars family have been nothing short of great with me, and gave me the chance when not many people did. That’s helped me out tremendously throughout the process. It gives me that extra boost in confidence. I always have confidence in myself, but to really realize that other people see the same in me, it really helps me develop better and helps me put my mind to it more.”
Booth made a Mike Pelfrey comp on Hard, who was sitting at 94 miles per hour in an indoor bullpen setting, and was a few ticks higher at the National Combine and International Week.
As for Kennedy, he’s likely familiar to those who follow the FSS closely for his showing at the Underclass Combine last year in Lake Charles. The 2022 grad was sharp on the hill on Sunday, and gave praise to the instruction he received from the staff, including Bill Bliss, who was drafted in the third round by the Chicago Cubs out of Villanova, which is based in Philly.
“It’s a great event,” Kennedy said in a live Twitter interview. “Everyone here, they know what they’re talking about. It’s not like other events. They really develop you here, and it’s a good time.”
It was a good time for many of the hitters in attendance as well, perhaps because they didn’t have to face guys like Hard and Kennedy.
Carlos Pena (pictured) was new to the Future Stars Series, but made a big impression with what he was able to do on the mound — an arm slot adjustment made by Booth during his bullpen helped get him up to 89 miles per hour off the bump — and with a big performance at the plate.
Pena says “I’m a hitter first,” but the Missouri commit has a bright future in whichever path he chooses.
Many of the bats were impressive on Sunday, with Ernesto Polanco, Mason Abromitis, Cam Jones, Jr., Andrew Holub, Angel Martinez, two-way standout Olivia Pichardo and, of course, Orlando Pena among the many notables who showed up to compete.
Another young man who had a good day? Jake McCarter, and that’s not limited to just his performance. The 2022 grad and Zoom Baseball Academy standout finalized his commitment to Louisiana-Lafayette alongside Booth on Sunday morning, and it seemed impossible to wipe the smile off of his face all day long.
“I couldn’t be more excited right now,” McCarter said in a live Twitter interview.
And, not to have “uncommitted” next to his name anymore?
“It’s a great relief,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
As you saw on those live Twitter interviews on the @ftrstarsseries account, McCarter was among many players who received some early invites to some FSS jewel events; he got the nod from Booth to attend this year’s National Combine, which will give him the chance to potentially earn a trip to showcase his skills at the prestigious Main Event at Fenway Park.
Kennedy was invited to the National Combine, while Carlos Pena, Polanco and Hard (shown above) will be attending the Pre-Draft Combine with numerous other invites yet to be made public just yet.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com
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