Bynum goes from AK title game to AZ baseball field, gets hit on first swing
The Fairbanks phenom arrived early Sunday morning to join Alaska Baseball Academy coach Tony Wylie and others for an exhibition showcase against minor league teams in front of more than 100 professional and college scouts.
Bynum went from baggage claim to the ballpark, where he was inserted into the No. 2 hole in the batting order. He smoked a line drive on the first pitch he saw and finished 3-for-4 with a double and a walk against the Oakland As Single-A team.
“My mom says I’m too young to be tired,” Bynum told me. “I felt pretty good today. I’m going to crash later, that’s for sure.”
Wylie is part of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau and has ties with a Canadian team that welcomed Bynum and Anchorage pitchers Zach Ferntheil and Johnny Meszaros. Ferntheil was the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012 and Meszaros was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013.
“We’re trying to get these kids a little more exposure,” Wylie told me.
Bynum signed with Arizona Western College in January while Ferntheil and Meszaros are free agents. Both pitchers have thrown pretty well on this trip, but they don’t have the star power of Bynum. He is an electrifying athlete.
He is someone who goes from scoring on driving layups at Sullivan Arena to hitting line drives at Papago Ballpark in less than 24 hours. That’s extra special.
“I asked him, ‘Are you sure you want to play? You just flew all night.’ And he told me he felt good,” Wylie said. “I could tell during batting practice that maybe his bat speed wasn’t there, but when he got in the game that adrenaline started going.
“The first pitch he sees, he drives a 94 mph fastball to left for a single, a sharp line drive. Everybody walked up to me and said, ‘Hey not bad for his first swing of the spring.’ Yep, told ya.”
Bynum should have been jet lag with sleepy eyes, yet there was studying the opposing starter while on deck.
“The guy that was throwing, I could tell he was working on his changeup. I batted second and he threw three changeups in a row, so I figured he might throw me a fastball and he did,” Bynum said. “Plus my third base coach told he would throw a fastball and that always helps.”
Later in the game, he ripped a double to the opposite field.
The 18-year-old is a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball at Monroe. This year he was voted Alaska 3A Player of the Year in basketball and is favored to win the same award this spring in
The 6-foot, 185-pounder is an outfielder and left-handed hitter.
“I take baseball very seriously right now,” Bynum said. “It’s what I want to do. My goal is to get better. I won’t see these professional guys while I’m in high school ever again, so I want to take advantage of this opportunity and just enjoy the experience.”