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Joyce Endee

Scouts show up, Cote goes to work

Professional scouts gather with their radar guns behind home plate during Jordan Cote’s start against Berlin on April 27. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
May 02, 2011
TILTON – There's a certain buzz around the ballpark when Jordan Cote takes the mound this year in Tilton.

No doubt about it, watching the Winnisquam Regional High School senior pitcher toe the rubber has turned into an event, with professional scouts turning up every time he's slated to start a game.

"You know, he's in front of a lot of people here and that's kind of tough to do for an 18-year old kid," Winnisquam coach Fred Caruso said after Cote shut down Berlin in a 7-2 Bears win on April 27. "But he kind of blocks everything out and just did a great job. He's somebody we can count on every time he's out there."

When Cote starts – home or away – a large contingent of scouts can also be counted on to show up, and the start against Berlin was no different. Over a dozen personnel from various Major League teams were in attendance, many setting up shop behind home plate armed with radar guns, clocking and charting Cote's every pitch.

"From the outside looking in, it can be overwhelming," Caruso explained. "During the summer when he was traveling with the travel teams, all the kids he was playing with are top notch prospects. When (the scouts) come here, he's the focal point. That's hard, I think."

One scout said Cote's fastball hovered between 88-90 miles per hour against Berlin, and most in attendance stuck around until the end, as the big righty went the distance while striking out 12 in the victory.

While the senior has committed to Division I power Coastal Carolina, he will have a decision to make in June if he's selected in the MLB Draft. With everything going on around him, Cote is just taking it all on.

"The process is still a little confusing," he admitted. "Obviously we don't know everything about it and it's kind of tough because it's a one-time thing, maybe two times if you get drafted again in college.

"The scouts show up, but the adrenaline kicks in and makes you want to throw harder, makes you want your stuff to be better," he continued. "We kind of know what they're looking for, poise and stuff like that. Gotta keep calm and do your thing, otherwise you'll start throwing it all over the place. The first time I pitched in the Area Code games in California, there was like 200 scouts there. I was just all over the place before I started to settle down after I got used to. Now it's like second nature."

Whether he decides to go to Conway, S.C. in the fall or take his game to the professional level, Cote knows he's one of the few lucky ones that get to choose between such enviable options.

"There's no wrong way to go," he said. "I mean, you've got Division I baseball with Coastal Carolina or professional baseball. I really just think of it like there's really no negative to the situation. But right now, I'm just really looking forward to going down (to Coastal). I went down there over February Vacation for a couple days and it was just the time of my life. The fans really get into it, just a different atmosphere."

While the hordes of scouts that have been around Tilton might be there solely to see Cote, that doesn't mean the rest of the Bears haven't enjoyed the experience as well.

"They're psyched," admitted Caruso. "Last week when all the scouts came, Trevor Chapin said, 'Coach, you didn't tell them I wasn't pitching today?' They're having a good time with it. They're all friends and proud of Jordan so we all wish him the best. You can't say enough good things about him."

Cote has also had some fun with the amount of attention being focused on his every pitch, and his teammates have handled the situation as well as could be expected.

"I think they take it pretty well, we joke about it at practice," he said. "The Detroit Tigers guy called the other day at practice and coach answered. We've got a kid on our team from Detroit so that was pretty funny.

"I think the rest of the team feeds off it too, as does the team we're playing I think," he said. "It makes it a little more difficult against other teams because you've got a bullseye on your back with being state champs last year, scouts here this year. But it's good to feed off that and I think it helps make you a better player."

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