E.A. Sports Today

Jenkins gets camp call

Ohatchee junior infielder/pitcher on his way to Under Armour Baseball Factory National Team camp in Florida

Ohatchee junior Jaylon Jenkins used his strong arms and hands to rip the first pitch he saw against Alexandria Tuesday night down the left field line for an RBI double.

Ohatchee junior Jaylon Jenkins used his strong arms and hands to rip the first pitch he saw against Alexandria Tuesday night down the left field line for an RBI double.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

ALEXANDRIA — If you want to know what gives Jaylon Jenkins the potential to excel at the next two levels just shake his hand.

Bat exit speed and grip strength are a big deal in baseball these days, and the versatile switch-hitting Ohatchee junior has eye-popping numbers in both areas that could have college coaches and pro scouts beating a path to his door next spring.

They’ll get to see a lot of it later this summer when Jenkins takes part in the invitation-only Under Armour Baseball Factory National Team camp at Pirate City in Florida in August.

Last year seven players from Alabama were invited to the two National World Series sessions at Pirate City.

It’s Jenkins’ strong arms and hands the scouts and college coaches will be coming to see. At his local Under Armor tryout at Spain Park his grip strength tested at 144 pounds in his right hand and 137 in his left and his bat exit speed was 89 mph — about in between the major leaguers (95) and an 18-year-old (75). The average grip strength for a player his age is 80-90 pounds.

“It comes from working on the farm,” Jenkins said. “The people at my school call me ‘vise grips’ because of my hands.”

“Sometimes he’ll joke around and squeeze your hand real hard and I have to make him stop,” Ohatchee coach Blake Jennings said.

Those strong arms and hands have produced 18 home runs and more than 90 RBIs the last three seasons. He had eight homers and nearly a .700 slugging percentage for the Indians in a Class 3A all-state honorable mention season this past spring.

In his first plate appearance in a 10-10 summer tie at Alexandria Tuesday night he ripped the first pitch he saw inside the third base bag and into the left-field corner for an RBI double. He wound up going 1-for-3 with an intentional walk.

“I’ve always known Jaylon had all this power,” Jennings said. “I always told my dad (if) the right person got to see him, he’ll take off, and hopefully that’s what happens.”

At the Under Armour camp Jenkins will receive one-on-one instruction from former pro players and college coaches, position specific training, national tournament competition and the chance to experience major-league facilities. Pirate City is Pittsburgh’s spring training complex.

“At first I didn’t think I did good enough to make it onto it, but I guess I just doubted myself,” he said. “I’m not close at all to being the player I want to be. I have the strength behind what I do, but I have to get my fundamentals down pat. This will show me a lot more to do.”

The only drawback is the camp dates coincide with the start of football practice in Alabama, but Indians coach Scott Martin has given his blessing.

“It’s a great thing for him and it is a very select group,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t want to hold anyone back who might benefit from such an honor. He’ll be OK with football.”



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