Baseball

‘A summer to remember’: Lincoln East’s Jalen Worthley impresses at top-200 prospect showcase

‘A summer to remember’: Lincoln East’s Jalen Worthley impresses at top-200 prospect showcase

When Jalen Worthley saw the radar guns all pointed at him, he had to remind himself to be calm.

Worthley took part in the 2021 Area Code Games, a national prospect showcase featuring 200 of the top high school baseball players from the classes of 2022 and 2023. More than 500 scouts turned up for the games on the day that Worthley pitched, making for a unique challenge and opportunity for the Lincoln East senior.

“This was my first time being on a stage like this when all the radar guns just go up in sync,” Worthley said. “It’s pretty cool, but pretty intimidating, too.”

Eight different regional teams participated in the five-day tournament in San Diego, and Worthley was the lone Nebraskan on his team. While one of the showcase teams is made up entirely of Texans, and the state of California has two teams participating in the tournament, the Chicago White Sox team draws players from 15 different states ranging from North Dakota to Oklahoma to Ohio.

Worthley plays his summer ball with the Nebraska Prospects travel team, and the opportunity only came about because he attended a regional tryout through the Prospects.

“I’m very thankful that they made this all possible,” Worthley said.

With 14 different pitchers on his team’s roster, Worthley knew his opportunities were limited. He made the most of his outing on Monday: two innings, four strikeouts, zero baserunners. Two of the players he struck out are committed to college baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt.

That performance showed Worthley he can compete on a big-time level.

In the spring, Worthley was a dominant, strikeout-heavy pitcher for Lincoln East. Over 33 innings, Worthley averaged 1.48 strikeouts per frame as he finished the season with a 5-0 record and 2.12 ERA.

“Jalen was a beast for us this spring,” Lincoln East head coach Mychal Lanik said. “He helped carry us through the middle of the season when he accumulated over 20 consecutive scoreless innings during a stretch, and we look forward to him being a very strong leader for us this coming spring.”

A unique highlight of Worthley’s trip was stumbling across former NBA star Dennis Rodman casually eating breakfast in downtown San Diego. A San Jose State baseball commit, Worthley felt at home during his trip to California.

Several scouts promised to stay in touch with Worthley, and with 64 former participants from the Area Code Games being selected in the 2020 MLB Draft, Worthley feels that he had a very busy but worthwhile summer.

“I definitely like it out here, the weather’s nice and the people are, too. I can’t wait to get back out here,” Worthley said. “It was a great way to end a summer to remember.”

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