By Richard Day
June 10 started out as any Monday would, but then a phone call changed all of that for the Swilling’s of Smiths Station. Carson Swilling, who will be a senior at Smiths Station High School this upcoming school year, was called and invited to participate in the new Prospect Development Pipeline, or a “PDP,” which is something new MLB baseball and U.S.A. Baseball went in together and started. Some big names have placed their name on the league as Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, and Barry Larkin have all been named as Captains for this inaugural season of MLB-USA Baseball PDP League. All four of these former players are alumni of the U.S.A. Baseball League.
Eighty kids from across the U.S. have been invited to participate in this event. Swilling flew out to Arizona to play in his first game on June 12, where he pitched two innings, striking out four batters and not allowing a run. He flew out of Arizona on Thursday and flew into Bradenton, Florida to the IMG Baseball Academy where they will be divided up into 20-man teams and play ball through July. IMG Baseball is one of the premier facilities in the U.S. to train and evaluate young baseball players. Fifteen former alumni of U.S.A. Baseball were taken in the first round of last week’s MLB draft.
U.S.A. Baseball will take the approximately 40 kids from the PDP League and invite those kids to play for the 18U U.S.A. National Team Trials, which will be played in late August in Los Angeles, California. From there, the final 20-man national team roster will be selected for team training in Asia, followed by the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea, to be held in early September. This first year’s team will be managed by longtime Clemson head coach Jack Leggett.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Swilling said, “I have never imagined being able to play for this type of organization, and I just want to go out there and prove myself.”
Swilling has committed to attend Auburn University after his senior year for the Panthers, which he hopes includes the playoffs and maybe even a state championship.
“I feel like if we play up to our potential there is no one that can beat us. We have lost some valuable seniors, but the younger guys will have to step up really fast.”
Swilling’s older brother, Hunter, was a 2013 Columbus High School graduate and former 29th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers. Swilling, the son of Eric and Cindy Swilling of Smiths Station, is coached by Mike Ferry at Smiths Station High School.