If given the choice, Parker Bean would be a dog.
The question of whether he would rather be a dog or cat was one of 250 he answered on a psychological exam given last winter by the Major League Baseball scouting bureau. Bean, a senior at South Western, took the test in preparation for potentially being chosen in June's draft.
"I think that's a good answer," Bean said. "Dogs are aggressive. I don't want to be a cat."
The test is one part of a lifetime of preparation for a baseball career beyond high school. Bean has a scholarship to pitch and play outfield at Liberty University, but his height (6-feet-5), weight (215 pounds) and fastball (91 mph) make him a potential draft pick.
He believes his freshman year was vital to the progression. The Mustangs made the state tournament, and Bean credited that team's senior class for helping him develop.
His play that season attracted Mike Chroniger, who coaches the Mid-Atlantic Rookies baseball program. The traveling team culls top players from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania for tournaments along the East Coast.
"That was a ton of exposure," said Bean, who began playing baseball at age 5 in Boynton Beach, Fla., before his family moved to the area two years later. "You were playing in front of hundreds of scouts and a hundred more pro scouts. The atmosphere was crazy."
His participation drew attention.
Bean auditioned for the Texas Rangers in January, throwing about 30 pitches, and the San Diego Padres chose him for a showcase event. He said scouts from five teams have attended games he has pitched in this season.
The time needed to participate in those events forced him to miss three or four days of school. He asks teachers for homework he will miss ahead of time and tries to find time to complete his assignments. He has traveled about three or four times each of the last three years.
"It was definitely a challenge," Bean said. "Of course, I'd rather be down in Florida playing baseball than being at school, but I think everybody would say the same thing."
Maintaining this schedule can be troublesome.
"When you're first doing it, it's a lot of fun," Resetar said. "After you travel and do some of the things, it's more of a grind. But it's something that's got to be done. You got to put yourself in front of coaches. You got to put yourself in front of scouts. It's part of the recruiting process now."
Driving or flying to and from those events can be costly. The payoff is a college scholarship, which just two percent of high school athletes earn, or a chance to be drafted. The investment paid off for Bean.
"I got a nice college scholarship," he said. "I think that's what you have to look at when you get into the travel ball. Hopefully in the end it'll all even out."
Travel baseball gave him the opportunity to hone his talent against top high school players, including teams from Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. His teammates will all play Division I baseball.
"I love playing with this team," Bean said. "It's awesome being able to go down there and pitch. It's a challenge as a pitcher you look forward to. You want to face the best and see what you're made of. That really builds you as a player."
This is the first of a multi-part series on Parker Bean's senior season and chances for being drafted.