Considered one of the top power-hitters in the nation, Sparkman High School senior catcher Daniel Garner, like almost all high schoolers this year had to adjust to the BBCOR bats. While you would expect his numbers to drop off, they haven't dropped off significantly.
"I hit 6 home runs, which was two less than what I hit last year with the old bats," said the Preseason Louisville Slugger All-America. "But I think I had about 32 walks so I had to make do with what I had. Coaches tried to make sure I didn't beat them so I had to take what they gave me."
During the first half and part of the second half of the season he took what they gave him by hitting doubles, 21 of them in fact. But during the latter stages of the season teams changed their strategy and tried to go inside to Garner. That's when his home run numbers increased.
"Early on, the pitches were away so I hit a lot to right-center," said Garner. "I tried to stay with the pitch and hit gap-to-gap. Toward the end of the season they tried to come hard in and that was when I started hitting balls out of the ballpark. They were pitching to my strength."
Garner faced several pitchers this season who he will also be facing in SEC ball next season. To prepare for the daily grind of the SEC, Daniel has been working hard to increase his size and strength.
"I've been staying in the weightroom, trying to get as big and strong as possible," said the 6-2, 210-pounder. "In the SEC the guys who are physical and drive the ball and hit into the gaps are the guys who play. That's the kind of guy that I want to be. I've never been a guy who steals bases so I'm going to have to be the guy who drives the ball into the gap and out of the ballpark. That's how I'm going to be able to play."
Since he's been playing games the same days that Mississippi State plays, Garner hasn't been able to come watch his future teammates but he has been keeping up with them by way of social media.
"I have been following the Bulldogs every game," said Garner. "I check twitter and you keep me updated on all the games."
While Daniel has been following the Bulldogs, Major League Baseball scouts have been following him all season long. And it appears they have liked what they have seen.
"I've been invited to five (Major League Baseball team) workouts (so far)," said Garner. "I'm going to the Marlins this Sunday, then the Royals, the Rays, the Braves and the Twins.Their crosscheckers, scouting directors and general managers will be at the workouts."
As of now, he's not really sure what will happen in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft. He doesn't know if he will be drafted in the early rounds or latter rounds.
"The pro teams are being low key right now (about where I will be drafted)," said Garner. "I think they'll come in closer to the draft and let me know (what they are thinking)."
No matter what happens during the draft, Garner feels like he's in a great situation.
"I'm in the best of both worlds right now," said the youngster. "If I get drafted and can go pro that would be great but if I don't, I get to go to Mississippi State and play in the SEC, the best conference in the country. I'm really excited about what is going to happen because either way it's a win-win situation for me."
This past season, Garner batted .410 with 21 doubles, 6 home runs and 37 RBI. He helped lead his team to the second round of the Alabama high school state playoffs.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.