Walker County Messenger - - Sports -

The past few sea­sons have seen sev­eral Gor­don Lee High School base­ball play­ers sign on to play at dif­fer­ent lev­els of col­lege, in­clud­ing NCAA Divi­sion I and Divi­sion II.

And the cup­board isn’t bare yet.

The Tro­jans’ next big prospect is ris­ing se­nior catcher Dy­lan Mingh­ini, the 2017 Walker County Player of the Year, who helped the Navy-and­White win the Re­gion 6-A cham­pi­onship and get them to the Class A Pub­lic School state fi­nals this past sea­son.

“It’s spe­cial and it’s al­ways an honor to be se­lected for some­thing like this,” Mingh­ini said of the Player of the Year award. “It kind of makes all of the hard work worth it.”

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has the num­bers - on and off the field - that get col­lege scouts ex­cited.

On the field, Mingh­ini fol­lowed up last year’s .430, twohomer, 31-RBI cam­paign by turn­ing in another huge sea­son at the plate. He hit .385 over­all for the year, lead­ing the Tro­jans in to­tal hits (45), hits with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion (30) and dou­bles (12). He swat­ted three homers and had a team-high 39 RBIs from the clean-up spot in the or­der.

But it was in the state play­offs when Mingh­ini’s star shone the bright­est. In nine play­off games, he hit a whop­ping .520 with seven dou­bles and two homers, while driv­ing in 12 runs.

He also showed off his arm behind the dish by throw­ing out nearly 30 per­cent of would-be base steal­ers on the sea­son.

Mingh­ini said he cred­its those num­bers to the ex­tra work he put in dur­ing the off-sea­son.

“I started work­ing with a per­sonal trainer,” he ex­plained. “I did a lot of weightlift­ing and I came (to the in­door fa­cil­ity) ev­ery­day and worked on my hit­ting and throw­ing. I just think I put in a lot more work go­ing into this (past) sea­son.

“If I was up with a run­ner on (base), all I was think­ing was ‘just get them in’. I al­ways seem to hit bet­ter with run­ners on. You kind of crave that hit a lit­tle more with run­ners on.”

“When I’m in the third base coaches’ box and I see Dy­lan come to the plate, I get ex­cited,” Gor­don Lee head coach Mike Dun­fee said with a smile. “His work ethic is through the roof, he’s a smart kid and he’s has a good head on his shoul­ders.”

In the class­room, Mingh­ini is also put­ting up mon­ster stats.

His Per­fect Game player pro­file not only shows that he was a 2017 Pre-Sea­son High School All-Amer­i­can Hon­or­able Men­tion pick, but it also shows a 4.0 grade point av­er­age and a 32 ACT score, which are two big rea­sons why his pro­file also shows that some big-name base­ball and aca­demic pow­er­houses have an in­ter­est in the Gor­don Lee stand­out.

“All the po­si­tions are im­por­tant, but you have to have a solid catcher back there,” Dun­fee stated. “Dy­lan is a hum­ble kid who works his tail off and he’s just a great kid to have around. He’s not a real vo­cal ‘rah-rah’ type of guy, but he will talk when some­thing needs to be said.

“He works great with the pitchers and I started let­ting him call the games behind the plate about halfway through his sopho­more year. He’s a smart enough kid to be able to do that and not let it af­fect his hit­ting. Some catchers do that and they over­think things when they get up to bat, but it doesn’t af­fect him.

“I’m just su­perec­static that we get him back for one more year.”

Mingh­ini said he def­i­nitely wants to go to col­lege and study en­gi­neer­ing and he hopes that base­ball will be a part of that col­lege

ex­pe­ri­ence. But with another year left to play in Chicka­mauga, he said he look­ing for­ward to do­ing ev­ery­thing he can to help get the Tro­jans back into a po­si­tion to play for and win that elu­sive state crown.

“I just want to do

what I can to bet­ter the team, do the best I can and be a leader,” he added. “We got all the way to the end of the year this time, but we just couldn’t fin­ish and that’s tough. You try to just throw that all away, but at the same time, you use it as mo­ti­va­tion and it makes you crave (a state ti­tle) even more. I want to get back out there al­ready.”

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