People who don't follow Western North Carolina high school baseball very closely may have been taken aback when three rising juniors committed to ACC schools in recent months.
North Buncombe's Alex Destino is on deck.
The Black Hawks outfielder/pitcher has opened up a world of options for himself at the next level based on his play this summer for the South Charlotte Panthers.
Destino is 6-0 as a pitcher and batting cleanup for South Charlotte, which was the runner-up at last week's World Wood Bat Association 16 and under tournament in the Atlanta area.
Destino was named to the WWBA all-tournament team as both a pitcher and position player. He batted .429 with 11 RBIs and had a 1.11 earned-run average in 6.1 innings on the mound.
"Not only are the ACC schools all over him, the SEC schools are now on him, too," Black Hawks coach Wesley King said.
"I'm getting a lot of calls about Alex, and he's really making a name for himself. He's matured as a player in a lot of ways."
Indeed, and Destino wasn't too shabby before joining South Charlotte.
As a sophomore, he hit .461 with 37 RBIs, 15 doubles and three home runs. The left-hander averaged 1.4 strikeouts per inning with his pitching for the Co-Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A champion Black Hawks (22-9).
"Playing with the Panthers has made me night and day a better player," Destino said.
"It makes you thankful to get to see this type of talent. Whether I'm pitching or hitting, it's just ridiculous. It's a blast to play against so many kids who have already committed to big schools."
Speaking of commitments, Destino said he hopes to choose a college before his junior season in 2013.
That would allow the All-MAC and All-WNC selection to join a group of young WNC recruits that includes North Henderson's Zack Gahagan (North Carolina) and Roberson's Braxton Davidson (North Carolina) and Katon Harwood (Clemson).
Davidson and Gahagan both pledged to the Tar Heels earlier this month.
King doesn't see any end in sight to Destino's potential or the coach's growing cellphone bill as more and more college coaches and pro scouts place calls to Weaverville.
"Alex is really taking advantage of the chance to showcase himself and his growth is going to be big for us," King said. "To play the way he has in national tournaments is just huge. I'm happy for him."