Poole, you see, is the first graduate of the Inner City Baseball Academy to turn professional. The academy, which just opened this year, is a project of major league baseball. Their thinking was that a lot of superior athletes come out of the blighted areas of our cities but most of them become basketball or, maybe, football players. There just wasn't a place for them to develop in the diamond game. Hence the academy, which is in Los Angeles.
You may figure that the kids who gravitate there are from lower incomes, facing a deadend future from which this project may rescue them. Maybe so for a good many but not so in the case of graduate No. 1 -Poole.
No, he's not from L.A. at all but rather suburban Colton and attended high school in Riverside. He was an honor student there and for the past two years has been attending Palomar, a junior college, majoring in business administration. He was visualizing a career in real estate and, to that end, was planning on taking his license exam this summer.
He played baseball at Palomar for two years. He didn't start as a freshman, then moved in as a sophomore and batted .306. Okay but not enough to get you drafted. So, when he heard of the academy and learned he qualified, he enrolled.
He may not be a poster child for the place but he certainly is an able spokesman. He is lavish in his praise of the facilities and the faculty. They worked hard with him and the others polishing their games. The scouts drop by regularly and, in the case of the Dodgers, Calvin Jones spotted Poole and worked him out.
"He told me he couldn't understand why I wasn't drafted and that he wanted to sign me," Lyndon relates. That happened so Poole's now a member of the Gulf Coast Dodgers.
It's easy to see what his main asset in the game is- speed. He's fast. Make that very, very fast. He'll be a prime contender in the 40-yard races held each spring to determine who's the swiftest of them all.
He joined the Dodgers after the season was underway so was used sparingly for a period. Now, though, he's taken over in center field, pushing the top two finishers in last spring's race, Jovanny Rosario and Trayvon Robinson, to right and left, respectively.
The fields used in the Gulf Coast are on the training bases for major league teams and they're spacious. A fast outfield is a premium for there's a lot of gappers hit. Poole has already making his mark tracking down several, denying extra-base hits in the process.
In the meantime, he's taking daily lessons in the art of hitting down on the ball and bunting for he doesn't possess the muscle power to go long ball. His average in the low 200's is nothing to boast about but he's still had some key hits. Put that with his fielding prowess and you see why manager Juan Bustabad is now using him on a daily basis.
He hasn't forgotten real estate for he still plans to take that exam, probably in October. Quiet, well-spoken, he may not be what you visualize as the typical inner-city kid. It didn't take the academy long to pay dividends though and that's something Poole and the Dodgers can be proud of.
Poole is Off and Running
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