South Western High senior Parker Bean is happy his lengthy baseball recruiting process is over.
He has verbally committed to pitch and play outfield at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Bean chose the Flames over offers from Bethune-Cookman, Georgetown, Penn State, Temple, University of North Carolina-Asheville, University of Pennsylvania and Wofford.
His scholarship offer becomes official after he signs a national letter of intent, which can be done Nov. 14 at the earliest. He will be the third Mustang in two years to play NCAA Division I baseball, joining current New Jersey Institute of Technology freshman Eric Moul and Temple University junior Matthew Hockenberry.
Bean hit .444 with 14 RBIs and 14 runs and stole 12 bases last season for the Mustangs.
"It's definitely an awesome feeling to have my future school chosen," Bean said. "It was a long process but very humbling at the same time. I met many great coaches and saw my share of college campuses. But now I can look ahead and continue to improve my game and reach new goals."
He was interested in the Flames because they have had nine pitchers in the last four years drafted after not being selected as high school players. Liberty has had 10 players chosen in the last two years.
"This was huge for me because it showed me that players are going through the program and getting developed into major league draft picks," Bean said. "I feel Liberty will be able to do the same for me and hopefully put me in a good position to get drafted after my junior season. My ultimate goal is to be playing professional baseball."
Being drafted out of high school remains a possibility. Bean has a 6-foot-6 frame scouts like, and he has hit 90 mph with his fastball. He was ranked by Perfect Game as the top 2013 prospect in Pennsylvania.
Major League Baseball, however, has implemented a draft slotting system that decreases what teams can play draft picks, and teams are spending less money in the later rounds, where Bean would likely be chosen, if at all.
If Bean doesn't sign, he would go to a baseball program that produced former second-round draft choice and Mount Holly Springs resident Sid Bream, who played first base for the Dodgers, Pirates, Braves and Astros in a 12-year career. The Flames are also building a new stadium that includes a weight room, training room and players' lounge.
"We're doing some nice things," said Liberty baseball coach Jim Toman, who could only say the school was recruiting Bean, but couldn't comment on him because of NCAA rules. "The athletic department is putting an emphasis on baseball. We're very excited about the new stadium. It will probably be the nicest one on the East Coast."
The Flames have blossomed under Toman, a former coach for a South Carolina team that has won two of the last three NCAA baseball tournaments, by winning 84 games the last two seasons. Flames pitching coach Garrett Quinn has also coached at Florida, another national baseball power.
Bean made his decision after speaking with his family and Mustangs coach Mike Resetar, who couldn't be reached for this story. Liberty coaches visited Bean in early August, and he went to the campus a few weeks later.
In an effort to draw attention, Bean will participate in an MLB Scouting Bureau showcase game this week in Cumberland, Md., and the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association tournament in October in Jupiter, Fla.. He will also play in the South Atlantic Border Battle in North Carolina early next year.
"It's always been a dream of mine to get drafted and play professional baseball," Bean said. "Whether the opportunity presents itself next June or my junior year in college, I will be just as pleased. The chance to play professional baseball is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
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