HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – Justin Showalter might not sound like a prototypical pro baseball player, but make no mistake, he has the tools to take it to the next level.
“He’s unique,” JMU baseball head coach Marlin Ikenberry said. “He’s not like your everyday right-hander. He can sink it. He can drag it and he’s hit 92-93 (miles per hour) and with movement, which kind of improves his draft status this year.
Showalter is originally from the Shenandoah Valley and played preschool at Turner Ashby High School. He’s been a member of the James Madison baseball team for four years and has arguably been the Dukes’ best pitcher for the past two seasons. In the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, Showalter posted a 4-0 record and 0.68 ERA on 26.2 innings pitched. He then missed the start of the 2021 campaign with an elbow injury, but performed well when he took the mound pitching 35 innings, striking out 22 batters and posting a 4.37 ERA.
“I still think I built myself from my injury,” Showalter said. “And I’ve been getting better and better since the end of the school season and throughout the summer season so far.”
Showalter, who says he’s now 100% recovered from his elbow injury, is trying to boost his stock for the upcoming MLB Draft by pitching this summer in the Appalachian League, a summer college baseball league. which is in part sponsored by Major League Baseball. Showalter made five starts for the Princeton WhistlePigs (WV), registering a 4.57 ERA and striking out 22 batters in 21.2 innings pitched.
The goal this summer is for Showalter to get more visibility and pitch more innings after his last two seasons at JMU were cut short. However, his lack of time on the mound in recent years could also be an advantage with less wear and tear on his right arm.
“He’s got a few innings that he hasn’t saved in the past two years,” Ikenberry said. “I think it’s going to be marketable for a lot of programs.”
Showalter added: “It’s just about getting more and more exposure and putting them in front of the Boy Scouts and showing them that I can be successful over a longer period of time.”
The 2021 MLB Draft is scheduled to take place July 11-13. If Showalter is selected, he will likely come on day three when rounds 11-20 take place. If not drafted, he could still sign with an organization as a free agent or return to JMU for his final year of college eligibility.
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