Juneau-Douglas senior Bryce Swofford has the size and skill to play basketball in college.
But he’s also got potential to play professional baseball.
No wonder the 6-foot-7 all-star pitcher signed with Central Arizona College, a two-time junior college national champion from Coolidge, Arizona, that has a track record for getting baseball players to the next level.
“This last year they had eight guys move on to D1 schools and the last two months they had a couple guys sign with pro teams,” Swofford said.
“Playing baseball in Arizona sounds pretty exciting. This time of year, I can’t walk outside my house and play catch without it being unbearable. Being able to go down there and do that any time of the year sounds pretty nice.”
In signing with a junior college, he remains eligible to be drafted by Major League Baseball teams for the next three years.
There’s a chance the 17-year-old could hear his name called in this year’s draft, said Tony Wylie, an MLB-affiliated scout from Anchorage.
“He is a very projectable pitcher with an outstanding pitcher’s body. A 6-foot-7 frame with a ton of physical maturity still to come — that’s exactly what we’re looking for as a young pitcher, especially one as raw as he is,” Wylie said in an interview. “Obviously, he’s not going to be a big-league player next year so we have to project what this kid’s going to look like three, four, five years from now.”
Wylie knows Swofford well from his years of playing with Wylie’s Alaska Baseball Academy travel team that participated in showcase tournaments in Arizona. It was there, and at another showcase in Florida, where Swofford caught the attention of national scouts with his 90-mph fastball.
“I talked with probably eight or nine teams and filled out medical forms,” he said.
Wylie believes Swofford has the tools to become a dominat pitcher in college if he takes care of business on and off the field.
“If Bryce will put in the work and gets in the innings and experience he needs, I don’t see any reason he wouldn’t be a low-to-mid 90s fastball guy in one or two years,” Wyle said.
Swofford is a player-of-the-year candidate as a senior this year. He’s the high school pitcher in Alaska this year that you would give the ball to if you have to win a game.
“When I’m on the mound I try to focus on what I’m doing, not everything else around me,” Swofford said. “Once I step on the field, it’s me on the field.”
Van Williams is a freelance writer in Anchorage and a correspondent for the Alaska School Activities Association.