CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s one of the bad parts about playing prep baseball in the summer.
Trey Leonard is one of the top players in Iowa, someone who is good enough to sign with college baseball power Louisville. But because he and the program want him to get a head start on classes and get acclimated to school and such, he won’t be spending his entire senior season with Cedar Rapids Washington.
The speedy center fielder will get most of it in before he heads south in early July, but not all of it.
“It’s good, but it also makes me take a step back and reflect about how much time I’ve got left,” said Leonard, whose team opens Monday afternoon against Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the opening round of the Bob Vrbicek Metro Tournament. “I’ve got a month and a half, basically. I want to make sure we finish the season well, finish strong. I want to make sure we’re on a high when we get to substate. Like they won’t even notice that I’m not there.”
Leonard played only nine games for Wash last season, then departed to play for a high-level traveling team in Wisconsin. As a sophomore, he hit .367 for the Warriors with 36 stolen bases and just eight strikeouts in 106 at-bats.
“He’s a guy who can do anything on the field,” Washington Coach Scott Brune said. “He is very versatile, a very tough out. He’s got a lot of speed.”
Brune lauded Leonard’s improved maturity, calling him one of his team’s leaders. Leonard said he wants to show he is more than a speed guy, wants to be able to drive the ball to the gaps and over the fence.
He said he has talked to some major league scouts about the upcoming MLB Draft, but is dead set on school.
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“I want to get my education, improve as a player and then be ready (for the draft),” Leonard said.
Washington returns most of its team from last season. Infielder Brady Bunten was an all-stater last year as a sophomore, hitting almost .500. Drew Christensen, Drew Dostal, Luke Jonasson, Jacob Boeckenstedt and Gunnar Bosking are other prominent returnees.
“I think we’ll be pretty competitive,” Brune said. “We are returning a lot of guys. I think we’ll be a lot tougher one through nine in the batter’s box and on the mound.”
Only two guys who played for Jefferson in last season’s 4A state tournament quarterfinal loss to Iowa City West return in 2017, but they are two really good guys. The J-Hawks are defending Metro Tournament champs and play Wash in a 5 p.m. quarterfinal at Cedar Rapids Xavier.
Junior pitcher Connor Van Scoyoc was 7-2 with a 1.40 earned run average as a sophomore and has committed to join his brother, Spencer, at Arizona State in two years. Junior shortstop Brayden Frazier also has already committed collegiately, to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The other quarterfinal at Xavier pits the host Saints against Marion at 7 p.m. Iowa football walk-on Bryce Schulte returns for Xavier as a solid two-way player. Marion returns virtually all of its pitching, including senior Brady Donohue, who was 8-1 with a 0.60 ERA last season.
Cedar Rapids Prairie is the other Metro tourney site, with the defending 4A state champion Hawks opening at 7 p.m. against Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Linn-Mar and Mount Vernon gets things started at Prairie at 4:30 p.m.
Only outfielder Levi Usher returns from Prairie’s starting lineup of a year ago, though senior Darren Kilpatrick (8-1, 2.29) gives the Hawks a legit ace.
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Kennedy also has one of those in Northwestern bound Anthony Alepra (5-4 1.44). Illinois State catcher signee Matt Berst gives the Cougars an all-D-I battery.
Linn-Mar lost a lot of pitching to graduation but returns three of its better hitters in Ben Diestler, Josh Gassmann and Kirby Kerr. Senior shortstop Jared Booth (.397) is Mount Vernon’s leading returning hitter.
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