We start in the state of Virginia which is the home of one of the top teams (#5) in the nation, the Richmond Braves National –coached by Rusty Sladler. This team is led by the #1 shortstop in the nation and one of the best 12U players you’ll see anywhere across the country – Kyle Horton. He is a shortstop and Ace pitcher who has gained the respect of all coaches who have seen him play. What they say tells the story on Kyle.
Coach Chad Beldsoe of the Evoshield Canes says, “Kyle Horton of the Richmond Braves is the most complete and talented player I’ve seen in this age group. He possesses all the tools at an elite level. He can shut down a team from the mound. He can lock up the left side of the infield defensively, and spray the ball with power from the plate, and he can take a base (seemingly) whenever he wants. He’s truly a “game changer”. You know that all too well when you’re sitting on the bucket in the opposing dugout. I’ve seen many great players over the years . . . and while they were all talented in some areas, they could not dominate in all areas of the game. But, Kyle’s skill set is extremely high in all areas of the game. He’s the type of kid you want to follow for years to come . . . . just to see where this game takes him.
Coach Dennis Kampas of Wolverine Baseball Club says, “During the Elite 32 World Series at the ESPN facility in Disney, I had the opportunity to coach Kyle Horton. I experienced, first hand, what an elite baseball player he is. No matter what we asked him to do, Kyle approached the task at hand with 100% of his ability. I saw him score from first on a lazy hit to the gap in right center. Watched him turn his back and track a ball in center that would easily have been a base hit on anyone else. His range at short was nothing short of “jaw-dropping”. But without a doubt, his poise and composure on the mound is amazing. My assistant coach said, “he could throw a lamb chop past a wolf!” Kyle is without a doubt one of the few true five tool players that I have seen or had the opportunity to coach. Kyle is definitely a game changer, where ever he is playing.
Coach Jeff Balance who has coached high school baseball for 10 years and travel baseball for 7 years, in the Tidewater Virginia area, has nothing but top praise for the exceptional talents of this young athlete. He goes on to say, “we have competed outside the state of Virginia against some of the best teams in the nation that this group has to offer. It has been my privilege to have watched Kyle play competitive travel baseball against our team for 2 years. First of all, Kyle’s attitude and effort is second to none. The way he carries himself on and off the field is nothing but first class. He has great character, and he is a tremendous team leader. On the field, Kyle is as talented a baseball player as I have seen for his age level. He is a very talented defensive player with outstanding range and ability to make the hard plays look simple. His arm strength is terrific. On offense, he was the toughest at bat we faced. He hit with a high average, high on base percentage, and with his excellent speed and quickness, he always moves around the bases. Kyle is the total package. I would be hard pressed to say there was another player in this age as talented as this young athlete.”
We could fill pages of praise from coaches across the south who have seen Kyle play and are quick to expound on his talent. However, we wrap up with the words that Richmond Braves Skipper, Rusty Sladler, as he coaches Kyle year-round. Coach Rusty says it well, “Many top players can hurt you, but Kyle hurts you in all areas; offensively, defensively, on the mound, and with his speed. You could argue him for being a top 5 player in each tool category. To further explain, Kyle played shortstop for his JV Baseball team as a 12 year old and led the team in hitting!! He also plays up with our older teams as well. I’ve coached for many years in an organization that puts 25 players a year in college to play baseball . . . and he’s the best I’ve seen at this age – bar none”.
These are the reasons why Kyle Horton is a TbS 2012 Player of the Year finalist. If you get a chance to see this young man play, better not pass it up . . . you’ll miss greatness in the making.
Kyle Horton – 2012 Stats
Kyle posted a batting average of .665 with an on base percentage of .706, and an OPS of almost 2.200! He hit 24 home runs, scored over 100 runs, and stole 80 bases (without ever being thrown out). As a leadoff he affected more games than anyone I saw because as an opponent you can’t pitch around him. Many big hitters you can pitch around but if you put Kyle on base he’s on third in 2 pitches. Maybe more impressive is in our big tournaments is when he did his best. At the Summer Nationals, where we saw everyone’s ace he went 15-20. In our two Super NIT tournaments he went 9-11 and 8-12. He’s just a special athlete.
As a pitcher Kyle has been gunned as high as 82 mph. Hitting that on 50 ft just isn’t fair. And he commands 2 other pitches as well. He walked just 5 batters in 50 innings while striking out 96 and carrying an ERA of 0.77! He won EVERY game he pitched, including the finals at the National Championships. He no longer pitches because he threw so darn hard that his arm wasn’t able to handle it so he’s now focused 100% on shortstop…scary!
UPDATE (11/27/2012): After some delays considering the outstanding finalist this year, Travel Ball Select is pleased announce that 2 time TbS All American, Emilio Vasquez, has been selected as the 2012 Player of the Year for the 12U age group. This was a close choice as there were some outstanding players to consider – including the likes of Kyle Horton (a strong Runner-Up) of the Richmond Braves Nationals. Kyle is a big time winner who already has all the tools including an incredible arm. Coaches say that it was scary to sit in the dug out and watch how many ways this kid could beat you. So, in addition to this years Player of the Year, take note of Kyle Horton. We can assure everyone that they will be hearing a lot about these two players in the coming years.