A Promising Prospect: Senior Ben Kudrna scouted by college and professional baseball teams

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Logan Brucker, Staff Writer

What a student accomplishes during their high school career has the potential to determine their future. Activities done during someone’s time in high school, such as a sport, can get them noticed by colleges and even into the professional world. Senior Ben Kudrna is one of those students, and has talked to 40-50 colleges about playing baseball at the next level.

Ben is currently a pitcher for the varsity baseball team under head coach Tyler Kincaid.

“Ben is an extremely talented player,” Kincaid said in an email interview.

Prior to his high school career with baseball, Ben’s mother, Wendy Kudrna, said he always had a passion for sports and a drive for success.

“As a little kid, [Ben was] just like a go-getter,” Wendy said. “He always had the ball in his hand, [and was] just the kind of typical boy that would just love to play ball and take any risk.”

Within recent years, Ben has caught the attention of not only college teams, but also the professional and major leagues and has begun getting in contact with them.

“I talked to all 30 [MLB] teams this offseason via Zoom; [I’ve] just kind of been introduced to their staff,” Ben said. “There have been a lot of [scouts] at our games this season.”

At times, Ben said the process of staying in contact with all that are interested can be a tedious process.

“For the professional side, it’s been a lot of Zoom calls and phone calls,” Ben said.

When looking for promising baseball players, scouts have their own criteria when looking for someone to come play for their organization.

“Each organization values players differently based on their own teams’ player development systems,” Kincaid said.

However, there are some rules for players once they have been scouted to play for a college before they are able to go play in a major league.

“A prospect that starts their college career at 4-year, cannot be drafted [into the MLB] until they turn 21 or have been in college for 3 years ­— whichever comes first,” Kincaid said.

Prior to this process beginning, coaches between organizations tend to stay in contact over the prospect.

“I send weekly emails to the Midwest Scouting community outlining each of Ben’s expected start dates and game times,” Kincaid said. “Hopefully this will alleviate some of the texts and phone calls that Ben would endure if I didn’t keep the scouts informed.”

The balance of being in constant communication while being scouted and still being able to be practicing and playing high school baseball can put a player under a lot of pressure.

“I try to take pressure off of Ben during the season,” Kincaid said. “He is constantly being asked to have meetings with the various organizations interested in taking him.

Despite the pressures and since the beginning of his high school career, Kincaid said Kudrna has continued to improve.

“Seeing what he has done to make him the pitcher he is today has been very impressive,” Kincaid said.

As an exceptional athlete, Kincaid expects Ben’s transition from high school baseball into college baseball to be similar gameplay.

“The game is the same,” Kincaid said. “The level of ability in the players, the amount of games, and the amount of time spent on your development is the biggest difference.”

While the gameplay is similar, the transition from high school into college and possibly later into professional leagues all depends on the player and their individual set of skills.

“The ease of the transition from high school to college depends on the individual player, their development, their physicality and ability in the weight room, and their social maturity,” Kincaid said.

The game from growing up to now is vastly different and there tends to be a lot of all around development since the time most athletes first start playing their sport.

“It was neat to kind of see him actually be a player versus just a little kid on the field just learning the game,” Wendy said.

Overall, Wendy believes her personal perspective of baseball has changed since the beginning of Ben’s career.

“There’s so much more to baseball than even me as a parent thought that I knew and a lot of other people know,” Wendy said. “I think just opening your eyes up and realizing the entirety of this sport of baseball has been very interesting to learn.”

Even toward the beginning of his career, Ben showed promising potential.

“At that age you just thought your kid was a pretty good baseball player like a lot of other kids,” Wendy said. “And you were out there just playing because he loved it.”

Within Ben’s family, Wendy said she always tries to keep things in perspective for Ben.

“We kind of tried to keep him on the straight and narrow and still keep life in perspective and not go too overboard one way or the other,” Wendy said.

Despite showing amazing potential from a very young age, Wendy said it’s still hard to believe Ben is where he is within athletics.

“I have to say with all honesty, never in a million years that I [thought he] would ever be at this point and not because I didn’t think he was a great kid and a great athlete, I just think there’s a lot of them out there,” Wendy said.

Even though it is still hard to believe Ben is where he is, Wendy said she believes attitude is still everything.

“I think that comes from still having fun with the game and not always being so serious,” Wendy said.

Now that things are coming to a close for high school baseball, a lot of emotions are starting to be felt in the Kudrna house.

“It’s quite a ride,” Wendy said. “I never would have imagined it.”