Underclass Spotlight: C/MIF, Maverick Handley



By John Cackowski
Director of Scouting

Recently PBR Colorado was able to catch up with Maverick Handley out of Mullen High School. Handley will be called upon to help lead the Mustangs through the tough Centennial League in 2015. The 5-foot-10, 190 pound junior catcher/2B has a balanced, athletic stance that creates explosive bat speed with a slight uphill swing with good extension through the zone. Ball explodes off the bat. Good looking prospect and very good student with a  plus 4.0 GPA and a 30 ACT score. Handley also played for Slammers 16U team this past summer.

1. At what point in your career did you become serious about taking your game to the next level?

Actually, I would say I was serious about baseball since I started playing Kid Pitch in the JCJBL league when I was 6.  Ultimately though, if I were to narrow it down to a specific event, it was the first time I tried out for a national team and didn’t get selected.  In 2010 when I was 12, I started competing at USA Baseball NTIS events.  I tried out during the 13U NTIS event. Playing up in age level really helped me to be more prepared to play against bigger, stronger, and faster kids that were there and competing with and against me.  I played really well in that event, but I was not selected for the National team trials. Even though I was trying out for a team a year older than my age level, this was the first time that I had not made a team that I wanted to be on.  I have always been competitive and a hard worker, but it was at that point, when I was reading the list of players selected and my name was not on it, that I realized in order to be one of the best players on a National level, no matter how old I was, I had to work even harder, and with a purpose, every chance I got. 

2. What are you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at? Feel free to elaborate as much as possible.

My outlook on college changed a bit after I missed my 2014 High School Varsity season because of an injury from playing Basketball in January.  I’m all healed up now and stronger/faster/better than I have ever been, but that season was the first time I couldn’t play baseball even though I wanted to. It was then that I realized I wasn’t invincible and how fortunate I was that if I did my rehab I could still play baseball after I was medically cleared.  I have always pushed myself academically in school, but I had it in my head that I was going to go to the best college baseball program and play baseball in college and go pro and the academics of the college didn’t matter as much.  After being injured and having done more research on colleges and universities, I am wanting the program I choose to be a top level academic school in a top baseball conference where I not only get to push myself in the classroom against high caliber students, but on the baseball field as well playing with and against the best college players in the country.

3. What schools do you have interest in?

I have always wanted to go to a school in the big conferences: the ACC, SEC, or PAC12.  I like the idea of playing with and against the best players in the country and those 3 conferences continually have some, if not most, of the top programs in the country.

4. What factors will sway your decision in choosing a college?

Eventually, I want to play professional baseball.  I think every kid does.  But I also know I won’t be playing baseball forever.  So the education I receive, that I will use when I am done playing baseball, is very important.  The coaching philosophy and team chemistry/environment are also important as I want to not only push myself physically to get better, but also mentally to become a better game manager behind the plate. I really want my coaches to teach me how to call a college level game and not just relay signals. Playing time is also important.  I would like to have a real opportunity to compete for playing time as freshmen, if not as an everyday starter at least as a regular contributor, and then have the opportunity to compete for a starting job as a sophomore and Junior.

5. Where if any have you made visits to?

I have been so busy with summer and fall baseball, I have not made any visits yet but I intend to start after my trimester finals in November.  With the time spent at USA Baseball, I visited the fields at the colleges around there, Duke, North Carolina and NC State.

6. What colleges have you been in contact with?

I started reaching out to colleges as a Freshmen.  I started getting a lot of camp fliers and questionnaires as a Sophomore.  Since September 1st, 20+ colleges have contacted me directly expressing their interest in recruiting me.  It really has been an honor to be contacted by these schools as they usually only recruit a catcher every other year, but right now I am only talking with 4 of those on a regular basis.  Stanford, Duke, Oregon, and Washington State.

7. Do you have any timetable as to when you are looking to make your decision?

The schools that I am talking with all say I am their #1 choice for a 2016 catcher.  Since I can only go to 1 school, I would rather not put the other schools in a bind when it comes to recruiting someone else for 2016 if they are not my #1 choice.  So I will likely try and make a decision after I visit some schools in November.

8. What do you do in the off-season to keep yourself in baseball shape and prepare for the upcoming season?

Until this year, I have always played multiple sports.  This being my Junior year of High School, it will be the first time I have not play more than 1 organized sport since I was 4.  Because of my basketball injury, I missed my Sophomore Varsity season, but I already had Spring Athletic Development scheduled for my PE class that trimester.  So I was able to not only rehab, but also lift and workout for the 1st time ever without negatively impacting my current season sport.  I played summer and fall baseball with Slammers Black.  After the Perfect Game WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Florida in late October, I will put away my cleats for about 3 months and start a hardcore baseball focused strength and conditioning program with some of my teammates at Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance.  That program will end the week before the High School season begins.  I will also help coach some of the Slammers camps over winter, as working with younger players really helps me to recharge.

9. What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point? 

I have been really fortunate to have played for and learned from some fantastic coaches over the years as well as played with and against some fantastic baseball players.  But if I had to choose a particular event, it would be the week I spent in Cary, North Carolina in 2013 at the USA Baseball 15U National Team Trials.  I got to practice, play with and against 39 other players identified as the best in the country.  Wearing USA on my chest and having the opportunity to be selected to represent my country at an international competition was amazing.  That experience continues to feed my drive to become the best person and player I can be.

10. How are your academics? GPA? ACT? SAT? Any academic awards?

I have a 4.3 GPA through my Sophomore year.  I am taking 3 AP classes this year at Mullen, which should raise it, a bit further.  I took the ACT as a Freshmen for the experience and did well, but retook it in February of 2014 as a Sophomore and scored a 30 (composite).  I want to improve on that score as well, so I will retake it again in February of 2015.  I have received a few academic awards at Mullen for specific classes, academic letters, and I will also be attending the AZ Junior Fall Classic All Academic Games on October 16th.

11. How was your high school season last year? Team record? Post season awards? Stats?

As I mentioned earlier, I missed my Sophomore season at Mullen which was really hard after playing really well on Varsity my Freshmen year.  The 2014 Mullen baseball team had some players miss all or part of the season (besides myself) because of various injuries.  We started the season 6-2 and then finished 2-10 for an overall record of 8-12.  A lot of underclassmen got a good amount of playing time on Varsity, which should help us this year.  My primary responsibility for the team was keeping the statistics and scoring the games on Gamechanger.

12. Preview your high school season? How will your team be this year? Expectations?

Mullen’s 2015 baseball season has the potential of being good.  We have a couple really solid Senior pitchers in LHP/1B Dominic Duran and RHP/OF Jimmy Dobrash.  Landon Urban is also a 2015 OF/RHP that I think will be making key contributions in the field, at the plate, and on the mound in relief.  There are a few Juniors that will be competing for playing time on Varsity as well.  During the 2014 season, we had a Sophomore, Sam Oswald, do a good job catching until he broke his hand in a game.  I’m not sure where Coach Porreco is going to play the two of us in the Spring. Honestly, I wouldn’t be opposed to moving to SS for my High School team and letting Sam catch most of the time. Ultimately, I will play wherever my Coach thinks it will benefit the team the most.  Our Underclassmen should contribute as well.  Several Sophomores got a lot of game time as Freshmen so I am looking for them to make an even bigger impact this year.  As for the new Freshmen, I have been doing some offseason work with them and there are some kids that have the ability to play when they get the opportunity. Overall, we have the pitching to compete in the 5A Centennial League, but how we finish will depend on our batting and defense.  After all, the object of the game is to score more runs than the other guys.

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