Future Stars Series Fast Five Alumni Update: College Spotlight (2/21)

— It’s only fitting that the author of one of the most memorable moments in International Week history got off to one of the hottest starts in college baseball.

Michael Brooks, who smacked a walk-off two-run double at Fenway Park in 2019, made his long-awaited NCAA debut this past weekend with the University of Central Florida — coincidentally, also the site of the inaugural Underclass Elite event, where Brooks addressed the attendees — and did some serious damage at the plate.  The redshirt freshman reached base in seven of his ten plate appearances, including three singles and a double, drove in a run and stole a base in his only attempt.

Both his .571 batting average and .700 OBP are second on the team among qualifying hitters.

— A veteran of the 2020 National Combine, 2020 International Week and 2021 Pre-Draft events, Joey Spence started off his collegiate career in a big way this past weekend, collecting an RBI double in his first NCAA at-bat in Notre Dame’s blowout win over Manhattan on Friday.  He reached base in both plate appearances, drawing a walk as well.

Spence was one of 31 attendees of Future Stars Series events — including 19 with experience in the jewel events — taken in the 2021 MLB Draft, but he elected to pass on signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks to honor his commitment with the Fighting Irish.

— Silas Ardoin picked up right where he left off, starting his MLB-Draft eligible junior season off right with a huge showing in Texas’ three-game domination of Rice to open up their 2022 season.  The 2018 International Week alum started all three games for the Longhorns and leads the team with a .500 batting average and 1.615 OPS.  He hit a home run, drove in five and reached base a whopping eight times all while catching a pitching staff — including alums Peter Hansen and Jared Southard — that allowed just three runs in their first 27 innings.  Oh, and he threw out the only baserunner that attempted to steal on him all series, too.

— A potential first overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, Dylan Crews was a huge part of LSU’s huge offensive output in their three-game season-opening series sweep of Maine, one in which the Tigers scored a whopping 51 runs.  Crews, who dazzled at the Future Stars Series National Tournaments in 2019 with the Scorpions and then continued his success at International Week later that year, went 6-for-11 with eight runs scored, four walks, a double and two triples in the series.

Two-time International Week invite Josh Pearson — who holds a share of numerous event records with 23 career plate appearances, ten times reaching base and six career hits between his 2019 and 2020 showings — made his collegiate debut during the series, and FSS alum Brody Drost, a sophomore, also saw action.

— Braden Montgomery continued to show he’s one of the country’s premier, true two-way stars with a stunning performance in Stanford’s opening weekend series against Cal-State Fullerton and fellow FSS alum Damone Hale.

A star at the National Tournaments, National Combine and International Week in 2020, the true freshman hit two homers in the Cardinal’s 11-1 win on Sunday, just two days removed from spinning a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts on Friday to pick up his first career collegiate save.

Brock Jones and Tommy Troy — both alums of International Week in 2018 and 2019, respectively, also helped Stanford in taking two out of their first three games; both started all three contests, and Jones reached base five times with two hits and three free passes.

**Bonus Select Sixth** Drew Gilbert turned in a weekend so good that we simply couldn’t ignore it.  One of the Future Stars Series originals — he was first seen during the first year of National Tournaments back in 2017 with the Minnesota Blizzard and later starred at the second installment of International Week back in 2018 — the Tennessee junior started all three games for the Vols and currently leads the team with six RBI after their three-game sweep of Georgia Southern.

The 2022 MLB Draft-eligible Gilbert, who was taken three years ago by the Minnesota Twins, but elected to go the college route, was joined in a strong showing by Blake Burke, a true freshman who impressed with his power at the 2020 National Combine, and was an International Week invitee, but ultimately unable to attend.

Burke went 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored, and also stole the first base of his NCAA career.

Mike Ashmore

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