Showalter hoping to hear name called in MLB Draft

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Justin Showalter might not look like a prototypical professional baseball player but don’t be fooled, he has the tools to pitch at the next level.

“He’s unique,” said JMU baseball head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “He’s not like your every day right-hander. He can sink it. He can slide it and he’s been up to 92-93 (miles per hour) and with movement, which is kind of what enhances his draft status this year.”

Showalter is a native of the Shenandoah Valley who starred on the prep level at Turner Ashby High School. He’s a four-year member of the James Madison baseball team and has been arguably the Dukes’ best pitcher over the last two seasons. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, Showalter posted a 4-0 record and 0.68 ERA across 26.2 innings pitched. He then missed the start of the 2021 campaign due to an elbow injury but performed well when he took the mound by tossing 35 innings, striking out 22 batters, and posting a 4.37 ERA.

“I have been, still I think, building up from my injury,” said Showalter. “And I have been getting better and better since the end of the school season and throughout the summer season so far.”

Showalter, who says he is now 100% recovered from his elbow injury, is trying to boost his stock for the upcoming MLB Draft by pitching this summer in the Appalachian League, a collegiate summer baseball league that’s partly sponsored by Major League Baseball. Showalter has made five starts for the Princeton (WV) WhistlePigs, logging a 4.57 ERA and striking out 22 batters over 21.2 innings pitched.

The goal this summer is for Showalter to get more exposure and throw more innings after his last two seasons at JMU were cut short. However, his lack of time on the mound in recent years could also be a benefit with less wear and tear occurring on his right arm.

“He’s got some innings that he hasn’t logged in the last two years,” said Ikenberry. “I think he’s going to be marketable to a lot of programs.”

Showalter added: “It’s just a matter of getting more and more exposure and getting in front of scouts and showing them I can succeed over a longer period of time.”

The 2021 MLB Draft is scheduled to take place from July 11-13. If Showalter is selected, it will likely come on day three when rounds 11-20 occur. If he does not get drafted, he could still sign with an organization as a free agent or return to JMU for his final year of college eligibility.

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