A pair of local high school baseball players officially have their chance to break out.
Earlier this week, Gainesville’s Asher Akridge and Newberry’s Darmarquez Covey were invited to attend the 2018 Breakthrough Series in Bradenton fron June 25-27. The event — a joint-effort from USA Baseball and MLB — is part of the two organizations’ “diversity pipeline,” and offers aspiring minority ballplayers professional-led instruction and a platform to perform for Major League scouts.
“It’s huge,” Newberry head coach Mike Spina said. “We’ve got a lot of good ballplayers in our area, and for one of them to be picked out of Newberry high school … it’s definitely exciting an exciting time.”
However, they didn’t get there on background alone. In Akridge’s case, the talent that got him there is evident.
2020 Uncommitted Spotlight OF Asher Akridge (Gainesville, FL) PG Grade 9.5, 6.44- 60 yard dash, 81mph OF, 84mph exit velocity, 72mph max barrel speed, athletic swing with feel for the barrel #PGSpotlight https://t.co/DNIoUxlGid pic.twitter.com/x5aTbJ5CGL
— PG Showcases (@PGShowcases) January 30, 2018
Described by Perfect Game as “tall and lean … with long limbs and limitless physical projection,” the rising junior appeared in 22 games last season with the Hurricanes’ varsity squad. Though his numbers weren’t flashy — he hit .182 — he’s given coaches plenty to talk about.
“(Asher’s) really starting to come into his own,” Gainesville head coach Chris Malphurs said. “As a sophomore, it’s tough to play varsity baseball at the 7-A level. But Asher did for us last year, and he did a good job.”
Time to shine
Plying his trade in left field, Akridge is among the hottest prospects to come out of Gainesville in recent years.
Rawlings named the 2020 graduate to its 2018 National Underclass East Top Prospect list, and Perfect Game gave him a player rating of 9.5 — indicating potential comparable to that of a future top-10 draft pick.
If showcase performances are anything to go by, he may fit that billing.
At the National Underclass East Showcase, the 6-foot-3, 155-pound Akridge belted a home run and surprised scouts with his speed. That form had carried over from the offseason circuit, where he shined for the Florida Hardballers.
— Prospect Wire Video (@PW_VideoFeed) October 28, 2017
Akridge is a raw talent, but he’s shown flashes of skill that could carry him to the next level. If he puts it all together this weekend, he could be taking that next step sooner rather than later.
“These guys are looking for players that have professional-type tools — the five tools of the game,” Malphurs said. “Asher’s got a lot of those tools already as a sophomore. …
“Here in Gainesville, we get some (players like Asher) every now and again, players that have a chance to be pretty special. … They come around every four or five years, and we’re hoping Asher will be one of those guys.”