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Draft potential rising for Case's Zac Correll

LAKEVILLE, Mass. -- When Zac Correll has been on the mound this season for Case High, more people than usual attend the Cardinals games.

But they aren’t friends and relatives of the 18-year-old righthander.

Instead, they’re Major League scouts who are there for a reason: To see if this 6-foot-6, 223-pound senior is worthy of being drafted.

“He’s a big, strong kid,” said a scout who requested anonymity after watching Correll blank Apponequet, 9-0, on May 9. “I just call it good clay to mold.

“He has an excellent frame and body to work with and arm action. He’s raw. He needs to learn a few things but we’ll see what happens.”

What’s happened so far this season, through games of May 12, is that Correll’s compiled a 5-2 record replete with a microscopic 0.61 ERA and 21 hits, 15 walks and 72 strikeouts in 41-1/3 innings.

Despite the inordinate amount of attention Correll has received, he’s remained focused and virtually has ignored scouts behind the backstop with their radar guns and stop watches.

“I don’t worry about it,” Correll said quite matter-of-factly. “When I play baseball, it’s just my catcher (Mike LaFleur) and my coach (Joel Brown). That’s it. That’s all I look at. I don’t care if there isn’t anybody there and I don’t care if there’s everybody.

“I just play baseball. I want to play with my team.”

Brown, for the most part, seconds that motion.

“If he’s been flustered by it, I haven’t noticed it,” said Brown. “I think he enjoys the challenge of it. Can it be a distraction? It think it can at times but there have been times when I’ve seen him settle down after the scouts have left and after the 10 or 12 guns that have been on him are no longer on him.

“I’ve seen him become a little bit more relaxed. I think he rises to the challenge. But I think he’s dealing with it like any 18-year-old kid. I think he’s fairly normal when it comes to that stuff. It’s a lot of attention gathering and it’s a lot of focus on him.

“I think he has very high expectations for himself,” continued Brown. “I think for the most part he’s been living up to that. But his composure is work in a progress. He’s continuing to get better and better with it with every start that he’s had.”

Correll’s start against the Lakers was as the saying goes a routine day at the office.

Not only did he blank the Lakers on one hit but he issued only one walk, fanned seven and threw 57 of 76 pitches for strikes.

When Correll is “on” which was the case against the Lakers his fastball tops out in the 92-93 range and he mixes it in with a changeup (which has batters way out in front) and a curveball.

“That’s what he’s been working with but they’re not perfect,” said Brown. “His changeup is coming. He has the fundamentals for it. He’s really working on trying to keep that at the knees ... trying to keep it low.

“The breaking ball, sometimes he gets lazy and comes to the side instead of really pulling the leash on it. But they’re developing nicely. They’re coming along.”

Brown, who’s in his second year as Case’s head coach, realized last season that Correll was more than your average high school pitcher.

“When a kid comes out and he’s 6-6, you know you’ve got a big boy on your hands and you hope that he can throw,” said Brown. “The first time he started throwing he threw the ball really hard. I couldn’t estimate how fast he was throwing at the time. The first time I saw him pitch, I’d say he was throwing in the mid-80's.

“I said ‘Wow. If I’ve got a kid who’s 17 years old and he’s 6-6 and he’s throwing in the mid-80's, this could be something special.’ And he was raw. There was a lot of green. There were a lot of technical and fundamental things that needed to be fixed. But he had the raw talent, easily.”

Correll credits his father, Rick Correll, with having a major influence on his young career.

“I was in kind of a slump when I was young,” said Correll the younger. “When I was young, I didn’t like it that much because I liked basketball more. My dad got me into baseball and now I’m in love with it.

“We’ve gone to ex-professional players like Kenny Ryan and Brian Rose (each of whom came up in the Red Sox’ farm system). We’ve looked up countless hours on YouTube. We’ve done a lot of workouts. Coach helps me with my mechanics but pitching-wise, I’d have to say my dad.”

What Correll says in a few weeks if he’s drafted could be noteworthy considering he’s already accepted a full ride to San Jacinto (Texas) Community College, which has the second-best junior college baseball program in the country.

“I’ve signed for two full years,” said Correll. “It seems like a good school. What I do will depend on if it’s high rounds and if the money is decent.

“But as long as I’m playing baseball I don’t care if I go pro. I don’t care if I go to college. I don’t care if I play (American) Legion with my teammates as long as I play baseball.”