By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
Caden Scarborough could be Texas bound.
The 2023 senior became the first player in Harmony High School history to be drafted, when he was selected in the sixth round of the Major League Free Agent Draft on Monday by the Texas Rangers.
“Incredible achievement for an outstanding individual,” Harmony coach Heath Williams said. “As a pitcher, Caden has ‘swing and miss’ stuff and that’s something that major league teams are always looking for. On top of that, he is one of the most focused athletes I have ever met. He sets goals and then works his tail off to get there.”
Scarborough’s draft stock may have improved with his performance in the FHSAA All-Star game in Lakeland, where he faced the best high school seniors in the state and struck out four batters in two innings. The San Diego Padres then flew him out to Petco Park for a private workout, where he struck out several college players that were also brought in for draft evaluations.
Scarborough described pitching in a major league stadium at Petco as a “surreal” experience. “It was just a workout, but I was standing on a major league mound and pitching in a major league stadium. It’s something I always dreamed about doing as a kid. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to do it again in a real major league game.”
The 6-6, 190-lb. right hander has a 96 mph fastball, but says his slider is his best pitch and he also throws a good curveball. Although he sported just a 1-1 record this season as a senior, he was without question the top pitcher in Osceola County with a 2.19 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 38.1 innings pitched. He was an All-Orange Belt Conference selection as a senior and was the local newspaper’s Player of the Year for both basketball and baseball.
“Won-lost records in pitching can be deceiving, especially in high school,” Williams said. “His record has absolutely zero to do with how dominating he was. In high school baseball, you have short fences and every once in a while a kid is going to connect. Add a few errors made behind him and a few other factors and that explains the record. But when you look deeper, he averaged almost two strike outs an inning and was dominating against quality opposition all season. What’s really exciting to me is that he hasn’t even scratched his potential. With the stuff he already has, professional coaches are going to be able refine and cultivate that natural talent.”
Although he has always dreamed of playing professional baseball, jumping right into professional baseball is not necessarily a given for Scarborough, who was also offered a college scholarship by Dallas Baptist – one of the top college division-1 programs in the nation. A chance to play D-1 baseball will most likely be countered by the Rangers, whose sixth round draft slot value is $340,000 — a soft cap on the bonus they could offer Scarborough.
“Right now, I am leaning towards getting my professional career started, but it is nice to always have options,” Scarborough said. “I’ll sit down with my parents and we will look at everything before making any final decisions.”
While Williams says he is incredibly proud of Scarborough and the fact that he is the school’s first baseball draftee, he takes little credit. “From the moment I first saw him, I knew how good he was and how good he could become. It’s been a great journey to just watch him mature each year.”
As for Scarborough, he says both Williams and basketball coach Duke Leonardo have had significant influences on getting him to this point. “Both those guys delivered the same message to me from the beginning,” Scarborough said. “They told me I had talent but I needed to improve on my mental focus. When I was younger, I had a bad tendency to get down on myself and go into a funk when things were not always falling my way and they taught me to that I had to forget about the bad things in the past and focus on what I could change in the future.”
Scarborough added that being Harmony’s first draft pick was important to him for a different reason. “I think there is a stigma about athletes from small towns. People don’t realize small towns can have pretty good athletes too. Being the first from Harmony is an individual honor but I am proud of where I grew up and I want to succeed to the town too.”
Photos Source: Katrina Scarborough