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You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

Vol commitment may be only the start for Maryville’s Curl

_MG_0626Rebel left-hander Alex Curl delivers during a one-hit, 11-strikeout performance this spring. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Committing to Tennessee is likely only the beginning for Alex Curl.

The rising Maryville High senior announced a verbal commitment to Tennessee coach Dave Serrano and the Vols via Twitter Wednesday afternoon, removing the pressures of recruiting from his final season with the Rebels next spring.

“UT’s the place I always wanted to go,” Curl said. “It’s the school I’ve always looked up to. Coach Serrano is doing great things over there, and the weight room instructor? I was blown away by him.”

Professional baseball is now on the clock.

Curl is a rare, prized commodity when it comes to an up and coming pitching prospect. A 6-foot-2, 180-pound left-hander is going to draw interest from colleges and professional clubs if he can get the ball over the plate.

Curl’s fastball has hit 91 mph, consistently tracking the upper 80s.

“I don’t think he’s reached his full potential,” Rebel baseball coach Jim Gaylor said. “We sure hope he hasn’t.”

Then there’s the Perfect Game thing.

Curl plays his summer ball for Diamond Simcox, the team fielded by the Diamond Baseball-Simcox Academy. Former Tennessee assistant coach Larry Simcox teaches hitting and fielding there, but that’s not why Curl, with a pair of no-hitters during his Maryville career, got the scholarship offer.

Diamond Simcox is in Atlanta this week, where they’re among over 300 teams participating in Perfect Game’s WWBA national championships. Perfect Game, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, bills itself as an elite scouting service for college and professional teams, and they’ve got the numbers to back it up.

Of 73 players taken in the first two rounds of the 2013 Major League draft, 62 of them had attended a Perfect Game showcase. Twenty-one Perfect Game All-Americans were selected on the first day of the 2013 draft.

Six Perfect Game All-Americans have been taken No. 1 overall.

As a Maryville sophomore two seasons ago, Curl went 2-1 with a 5.19 earned run average, fanning 33 batters. Going more with his changeup and slider as a junior, relying more on his defense, he cut his ERA by two (3.72), raising his strikeouts to 41.

“I tried to relax a little more,” Curl said. “I would go out there and be really aggressive (as a sophomore). I’d go out and throw really hard and then tense up.”

Prompted by Gaylor to take a little off from time to time, the results were magic.

“We were constantly working with him to let him know he didn’t have to throw 90 to get people out,” Gaylor said.

Curl said his mindset swung dramatically after a particular practice prior to last season.

“They put a (radar) gun on me, and I found out I was hitting 90, 91,” he said. “I said, ‘Wow! Maybe I can do something with this.’”

Sure looks like it.

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