Gray Fenter Continues To Perform Under Bright Lights
By Billy Woods
Gray is the son of Glen and Jody Fenter of West Memphis and the grandson of Guy and Shelby Fenter of Charleston
The big stage did nothing to startle Gray Fenter.
Counted on to pitch the final two innings and record the save for the Americans inSaturday’s Under Armour All-American Game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the West Memphis High School senior featured a 92-MPH fastball with plenty of run on it, a curveball that was touted by MLB Network game analyst Jim Callis, of Baseball America, as "the best curve in this game," and even some swag on his game face when he struck out Nick Shumpert to end the game, a 2-1 victory for the Americans.
Fenter entered the summer fairly high on MLB scouts’ list of top high school prospects. He’s done nothing but move up the charts after a dominating performance in Saturday’s game that was shown on a delayed basis on the MLB Network Sundaynight.
Fenter breezed through the eighth inning with a tidy 10-pitch effort that included a strikeout of his good friend and summer teammate for a few years Austin Riley of Southaven, Miss., who is committed to Mississippi State, but who may not make it to Starkville because he’s projected as a high-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Fenter was handed the lead after his club rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth in a game that was more than dominated by some very live pitching arms.
Fenter’s final inning began with a second straight strikeout on a 79 MPH curveball that Starling Heredia chased out of the strike zone.
The Nationals’ Ryan Johnson then took advantage of a miscue by American second baseman Kylar Murray, the son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray. Murray ranged to his right, but had trouble extracting the ball from his glove and got off a weak throw in the dirt, which was too late to get Johnson.
Fenter then got the game’s MVP, Josh Naylor of Canada, to fly to left field.
Kody Clemens (yea, THAT Kody Clemens) singled to the opposite field on a high 90-MPH fastball.
Earlier in the broadcast, Clemens’ father, Roger, was invited to the MLB broadcast booth that hooked him up with his son in the Nationals’ dugout.
"Hey Kody, remember when Pops pitched in this park going for his 300th win?" Roger asked Kody on the air.
Really, Roger? Aren’t you too great for that kind of informercial. We didn’t need to be reminded.
After Shumpert whiffed on a riding 91-MPH fastball and fouling off a 92-MPH heater, Americans’ manager Billy Ripken, who was miked up for the game along with his counterpart Sean Casey, reeled off a superlative.
"Regardless of what happens here, my man Fenter has that look and that makeup for what you want at the end of a game," Ripken said. "This dude just looks like he wants to bulldog somebody."
"He might have the best curveball in this game and we might see it right here Sean," Callis said of Fenter.
"I hope we don’t," Casey replied.
Shumpert didn’t get the bender.
He got another one of those fastballs that started at the letters and wound up head high.
Shumpert was a day late on the swing and the game was over.
Fenter was caught by the MLB cameras in a tight shot with his lips pursed and a glare that was Gibson-esque.
"Oooh," Case was heard saying.
Although Fenter has another personal hurdle to clear this month by trying out for Team USA’s 20-man squad that will battle Mexico, he awaits a three-month period in which he won’t even pick up a baseball.
He’ll need the rest.
Because next spring at Tilden Rodgers Complex MLB scouts will be lining up with their guns in hand.