Last week, Southeast Kansas native Jace Kaminska, Caney Valley High School class of 2020, had the honor to play in a select top-50 Showcase put on by the Midwest Scouting Association at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City -— home of the Royals.
The lead organizer of the event, Dustin Smith, is a current scout with the Texas Rangers and has his own ties to Kansas, having graduated from Girard High School back in 1999 and playing at Cowley County Community College in Ark City. Smith was drafted twice by the Rangers, first out of high school and then after his lone season at the junior college level. Dustin’s older brother, Dan, pitched in the majors in the late 90s and early 00s.
IDR caught up with Dustin to get his thoughts on Kaminska’s performance at the MWSA 50 Showcase.
“I thought he fared very well there,” Smith began. “It was a good opportunity for him to be seen by a lot of scouts. There were scouts from all 30 teams there. He certainly took advantage of the opportunity. He has a good arm and a good breaking ball to go with it and he performed well on a big stage.”
Continuing, Smith then talked about Jace’s strengths, stating, “He has a lively fastball. And he has makings of a power breaking ball. He is aggressive, and in the short time I’ve seen him, looks like a very competitive kid. Mostly 90-92 (on his fastball), touched 93. His off-speed pitch that stood out was his breaking ball. It has good bite to it and he has feel for it. He can put hitters away with it.”
Shifting focus to possible improvements, the Rangers scout added that Kaminska should “continue to refine the command of his pitches. As you move up, hitters will stop chasing pitches out of the strike zone. So this isn’t necessarily something specific to Jace, but is true of all high school pitchers.”
When asked about Kaminska in comparison to top-flight talent and his overall chances to make it to the big leagues, Smith stated, “Scouts and college coaches know good players can come from anywhere, so being from a small town doesn’t necessarily hold him back. Every player has adjustments to make as they move to the next level but if a player has the ability he will do that regardless of where he’s from.
“As far as best path, it’s hard to say. Every kid is different. Some kids are ready to make that jump out of high school and some kids need to go to college. The mental side of it is huge. As you move to the next level, whether it’s college or pro ball, the playing field is leveled talent-wise, so to speak. You go from being the best kid on your team or in your league to not being that. It’s the players who learn how to handle failure and learn how to make adjustments who start to set themselves apart.
“Jace will probably get some looks in the spring from pro scouts, but my advice would be ‘don’t look too far into the future.’ He’s headed to a good program at Wichita State, and if that’s what ends up happening, that’s a good place to be. Just continue to work hard and improve and stay healthy and it will all work itself out down the road.”
Speaking to Kaminska about the experience and his future plans, he explained, “It’s not everyday you get to throw at Kauffman. It’s a really nice field..this is a great event and a lot of good players are here. They’ll attack your mistakes out here, too. I am still committed (to Wichita State) and I’m kinda loyal.”
Jace has verbally committed, but should make it official when he signs his letter of intent on or after November 15. Stay tuned to the Reporter for any future updates.