January 22, 2014 11:46:03 PM
CALEDONIA -- The numbers point to a bright future for Caleb Brown.
The Mississippi Delta Community College baseball program is banking on the fact that the progress Brown has made the past three years continues.
On Wednesday, the Caledonia High School standout rewarded MDCC's belief in him by signing a scholarship to play baseball at the school in Moorhead.
Brown, who also is a member of the school's boys basketball team, blossomed last season on the baseball field. After going 0-4 and hitting .207 as a freshman, Brown broke out and went 6-4 with 14 walks and 66 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. He also moved from leadoff to a spot in the middle of the order and hit .378 with 34 hits (11 doubles, two home runs), 32 runs, and 25 RBIs.
Brown attended several college showcases in the fall, including one at MDCC. He said it took about a month before MDCC offered him a scholarship. He liked the amount of interest MDCC showed in him and put into his recruiting, so he felt comfortable selecting the school.
"I started with the varsity in the ninth grade, and every year I put in a lot of hard work and a lot of offseason work," said Brown, who played with the Golden Spikes Baseball Club, a travel team out of Meridian, last year. "Every year I have gotten better and better, and it has all led up to this moment."
Brown said he didn't expect to start on the varsity team as a freshman in high school. He used that early opportunity as motivation to improve and set playing in college as goal. He said every year he worked harder and harder to earn a shot to realize his dream.
Caledonia High baseball coach John Wilson said Brown has helped set the tone for the program.
"He works hard, plays a lot of games, and is always there whenever he is available," Wilson said. "The problem is with basketball we probably won't have him the first couple of weeks of the season. When he is there, he always does everything we ask. He always has been a real coachable kid."
Wilson said Brown started at shortstop for the Confederates as a freshman. He said Brown deserves a chance to play baseball in college because he has worked hard to get better. Wilson has seen Brown become more mentally focused and be able to overcome mistakes in the field that he said used to rattle him. These days, Brown is someone Wilson said the younger players look to to react to situations.
Brown isn't going to be content knowing his baseball career will continue in college. He said he wants to "go out with a bang" in his final baseball season. He also wants to use another high school season to fine tune his pitching and to become more versatile. He said Wilson could use him in center field this season.
The possibilities in the coming years excite Brown and Wilson. As a coach, Wilson said Brown, who weighs 150 pounds, can put on 20-25 pounds as he matures. He believes Brown could find a spot in the outfield in college depending on how he develops.
This season, Wilson expects Brown to shoulder a big load. He said Brown will be the team's No. 1 starter and will be third or fourth in the lineup.
Wilson also sees Brown doing big things after he graduates from Caledonia High.
"He will be fine," Wilson said. "He was fine last year. He hit third in the lineup last year. We lost a couple of players that should be here playing, but we gained one or two who have moved in.
"I think he will handle the transition to junior college. For most kids, the big jump is when they go from here to a four-year school. That is because they have to sit before they play. He is going to go there and probably get to play immediately, so I don't think there will be a big problem."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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