Just the sight of Warsaw (Mo.)
shortstop Johnny Eierman
standing at home plate is enough to strike fear into opposing baseball coaches and managers, often creating a momentary change of game plan.
Possessing all of the tools needed to play professionally, Eierman has the power and the speed to single-handedly change a game offensively, and the strong arm needed defensively to freeze or burn any baserunner desiring to reach safely or take that extra base.
"Tools-wise, he is ready to play professionally," Randy Merryman, coach of the Midwest Nationals baseball team and Associate Scout for the Texas Rangers, said. "He has all of the tools in the world. His only problem is that it's hard for scouts to come in to Warsaw and see him play. So many teams pitch around him."
Merryman, who coached Eierman on the Midwest Nationals squad last summer, said he'd be shocked if the 6-foot-1, 200-pound slugger wasn't taken by the conclusion of the second, third or fourth rounds in June's 2011 Major League Baseball draft.
"He plays very hard," Merryman said. "There is no doubt he is a special talent. When he gets on base, he is such a mismatch. If he hits a little dribbler, he'll beat it out. Give him a pitch over the plate and he'll hit it a mile."
His reputation as a monster swinger may not allow Eierman to get too many good pitches. But it has set before him a frequent audience of professional baseball scouts and college coaches throughout his prep career.
The shortstop is well aware of the onlookers, and challenges himself to perform daily.
"I don't really feel pressure," Eierman said. "I go out and give it my best … show ‘em what I've got. It's my opportunity to say, 'draft me.' It's me against the other team, me against other people from around the country. They are comparing me to guys they saw earlier.
"I have a lot of power, and I can hit it wherever I need to. But I really don't get a lot of good pitches, so I hit it where I can. Where it's pitched, that's where I hit it."
While his bat has served him well during his somewhat brief baseball career, Eierman isn't one to sit back and rest on his laurels. He's always tinkering, trying to get better. Eierman's swing and stance are never-ending works in progress.
The returning Class 3 first team all-state infielder was born during the 1992 baseball season as his father John, Sr. was taking the field in the Boston Red Sox organization. As soon as he was able to, Eierman was clenching his fist around a baseball bat. By about the age of 2, maybe 3, he was tossing a ball. He's always wanted to hit the ball.
"Every day I get to put my stuff on and go out and play ball," Eierman said of the game that he has literally grown up around. "Whether I'm going in for (batting practice) or out on the field, I like to watch it (the ball) go."
Through the years father and son have built a close relationship, spending much of their time together watching and discussing baseball. While the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals were the teams of his liking early on, Eierman now admits that he just enjoys watching baseball regardless of who is playing.
Eierman has received plenty of tips and words of wisdom from his father, who doubles as his high school coach. "He tells me to hustle and to never show (negative) emotion on the field," Eierman said. "If I strike out I just move on."
If the draft doesn't play out like he hopes, Eierman will continue playing baseball in the Southeastern Conference at Louisiana State University.
"He's excited about LSU," the elder Eierman said of the school at which his son may spend the next four years honing his skills. "We have professional scouts at every game. If someone thinks highly enough of him to draft him high and give him some money, he'd consider it. He'd have to. That certainly is a possibility. But it'd have to be pretty special to drag him from his college commitment."
In 36 at-bats, he's hitting a cool .667 with 24 hits, six doubles, three triples and six home runs for the 14-0 Wildcats. That's particularly impressive considering most teams pitch right around him. He's walked 22 times.
He has surpassed last season's home run total by one during his senior campaign. Eierman's on-base percentage presently stands at .772, while his slugging percentage is 1.515.
"I think it's probably because I'm another year older and more mature," Eierman said of his ability to hit it out of the park more frequently this season. "Last year I was a little more laid back. I'm a lot more serious this season, more intense. I'm also a little bigger and stronger."
As Warsaw attempts to keep its perfect season intact, the Wildcat schedule will get a little stronger over the last half of the season. Eierman isn't the only big bat in the lineup. As a team Warsaw is hitting .436 with eight Wildcats batting .400 or better.
"We have plenty of good hitting on this team," Eierman said. "We don't have a set lineup. We have good hitters up and down and on the bench. Our pitchers throw strikes. We really don't have any holes on this team. Our pitching staff puts the ball in play and we make the plays behind them."