The first day the baseball team from Yukon, Okla., held a scrimmage this season, 30 scouts watched Jon Denney's every move.
"There are not a whole lot of catchers who can do what he does," says Yukon coach Kevin James. "Right now, they're looking to see if there's something wrong with him. "He has handled the zoo, the circus really well. He handles it better than I would. I never experienced what he's going through."
Denney hasn't given scouts any reason to leave. He's led the Millers into today's regional playoff with Norman and is the focus of this week's American Family Insurance All-USA Watch.
This week's player: Jon Denney, Yukon, Okla., catcher.
2013 stats through Thursday: Hitting .490 with a .629 on-base percentage, 1.062 slugging percentage, 13 doubles, six triples, 10 homers and 44 RBI. The 6-2, 195-pound catcher has been walked 37 times. He's also thrown out 10 of 14 runners and has only one error.
Other's take: "When he showed up here as a seventh grader, he was OK," James said. "He could hit it a bit. When he got to be an eighth grader, that summer, I got to go with him to a tournament. He hit a homer to right and one to left in a pretty big park facing a varsity team. We knew then there was some pop there."
By his sophomore year, Denney became Yukon's regular catcher.
"Even as a freshman, people would not run on him," James said. "He gets out of his crouch really fast and has a cannon for an arm."
Standout summer: One reason Denney has been mentioned as a possible early-round choice in Major League Baseball's June Amateur Draft is he has stood out against top-flight pitching, playing well in several summer events, including hitting a mammoth homer at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif., in the Area Code Games in August. The shot, estimated at 435 feet, hit a pine tree behind the fence in center field.
"It's funny, he looks more comfortable against guys throwing 91-92 mph than some of the pitchers we have around here," James said. "I don't think he's going to have any trouble adjusting at the next level."
Look out for: Eustis, Fla., catcher Chris Okey, who is hitting .407 with 29 RBI and four homers. He's also thrown out eight of 19 runners who have attempted to steal.
Also look out for: Kentwood (Covington, Wash.), catcher Reese McGuire, who is hitting .435 with three homers, three triples and 16 RBI. He has also scored 26 runs.
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @jimhalley.