Above in PANORAMIC
5/17 Kenston 10 ~ Willoughby South 5
Above in PANORAMIC
Published in The News-Herald
July 10, 2021
Ben DeMell and Ryan Gilbert know they will be playing baseball next season. The only question is where they will play.
They are committed to play at Penn State and Indiana, respectively, but also have their name in the MLB draft that starts July 11.
If they are selected, they have the option to forgo their college playing days and sign with the team that drafted them.
While these players have caught the eyes of MLB scouts, their journeys to this point couldn’t have been more different.
DeMell was on the Gilmour varsity team as a freshman, and the coaching staff gave him challenges from Day 1 to help him improve his game. Even though he was thrown into the deep end, DeMell swam and posted a career 1.03 ERA in the regular season and helped Gilmour to a state final in 2019.
“His first game he ever pitched was against Mentor as a freshman on varsity,” Gilmour coach John Murphy said. “He struggled in his freshman season, but not as much as most. We kept that kind of pressure on him all the time. We wanted him to go against the best teams because it would also prepare him for the next level.”
Even though he was on the varsity team as a freshman, DeMell was up for the challenge and knew he was going to learn from it and it was going to help him in the long run.
“Starting as a freshman, it helped me grow as both a person and a player,” DeMell said. “Pitching against guys that were 3-4 years older than me really helped me become a better and more knowledgeable player.”
In contrast, Gilbert only spent one season on the varsity roster at Kenston, but took advantage of the situation. He led The News-Herald coverage area with seven home runs and had a .500 batting average.
“After some injuries and his junior season being canceled, I saw him go from a long skinny kid to a 6-foot-5 athlete,” Kenston coach Bob Ford said. “When I told him I wanted him to be one of our captains, he was a little hesitant at first. He helped lead the team thanks to his performance, and as the year went on he grew into the role more and more.”
While his varsity experience was limited, Gilbert was able to develop his game in the summer. He worked not just on his overall game, but also developing the maturity of himself for when colleges and MLB scouts came to talk to him.
“I got a sense of the time management side of things,” Gilbert said. “I always had this work ethic in me that wanted to do something, but I didn’t have the time management skills to back it up. This past year, I introduced a schedule and took things day by day, and that really helped me in the long run.”
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