Having one’s eyes wide open means an individual is fully aware and informed of what is about to happen. The phrase is a perfect descriptor for 2022 uncommitted left-handed pitcher, Kyle Percival. At 6’4” and 215 pounds, the southpaw clearly sees the opportunities that he has in front of him within the game of baseball, and beyond.
Now in his sophomore year at Andrew Jackson High School in Kershaw, SC, he and his family made a decision based on some guidance last spring to join the Dirtbags to maximize his exposure to elite college programs. And according to Kyle, that advice has paid off. The list of schools he rattled off when asked about his interests and who he has spoken with is a “who’s who” among regular regional contenders.
The gravity of the situation also doesn’t go unnoticed on Percival, who says he sees each conversation with a college coach as a job interview. Using words like “thankful” and “blessed” it becomes clear that the young man realizes he’s going to eventually have the opportunity to make a life-changing decision about attending a university to not only play baseball, but also advance himself in life through an academic area of study.
In speaking to Kyle, who carries a 4.7 GPA, the journey to become an anesthesiologist seems just as likely as his baseball skills will continue to make him a pitcher with a very high ceiling as to how far his highest level may be.
While Percival may have joined the Bags to get the exposure, he found that the organization offered him much more. Kyle says he really appreciates how he can get insight and instruction from coaches in so many areas. From how to warm up and stretch more effectively to accessing a workout or recruiting tips, he shared the Dirtbags offer advice about everything.
He summed up his view with, “It’s the best organization in the country.”
Percival commented he has benefitted the most from the consistent feedback he has gotten from the coaches. And what he does with that info is to go “back to the lab” (bullpen) to sharpen his skills.
When asked about the cognitive process in all of this Kyle remarked, “I think in the pen, but it’s go time in the game.”
As he played for the talented Dirtbags Tap Out in 2019, whose head coach was the organization’s GM, Trey Daly, another part of Percival’s game was able to stand out – his attitude towards his teammates. According to Daly, his “team first” approach is unrivaled.
Daly commented, “First thing about Kyle is he’s one of the most selfless players I’ve been around. Dude just wants to win and do whatever he can to help.”
And Kyle agrees with this assessment as a motivating force for him. He even recollected about a crucial situation when he was able to step up in the squad’s run this past summer at the WWBA championship at Lake Point. when he was called upon with no outs and runners on 1B and 2B. He gushed about how his teammates counted on him in that situation and he was so happy to oblige.
A quick recap of Percival’s rise to prominence for his fellow Dirtbags is best shared by Daly, “At the beginning of the summer he came out of the pen. By the end of the summer we put him in a starting role. He had huge outings for us in Atlanta and Texas. He’s one of the reasons TapOut had a successful 2019 campaign, and a lot of it is because of his team first mentality.”
That mentality is made easier according to Percival when playing with such talented players. Like many top performers in the organization have recognized, the pressure seems to lessen when the thought leaves that having to do it all is eliminated.
It’s not just Percival’s attitude that makes him a valuable team member. He has skills on the mound and with his frame the best is probably ahead of him. With a fastball in the mid 80’s, a slurvy breaking ball, and a swing and miss change up, the lefty creates quite a problem for opposing batters.
Daly added, “On the bump the southpaw commands the zone with three pitches. This makes him very tough to face for the opposition.”
But he’s not done with the getting better part. For Kyle the off-season will be about increasing body strength and fine tuning mechanics to improve command. Generally, he says he just wants to become better all around player.
Expect the recruiting for his services to continue as well. And he has a vision for what he wants here, too. Kyle says a school that can offer that true campus feel is a priority. Also the personal aspect of the program from the team providing a family type bond, to coaches who care for players as people, are all important.
The way Kyle Percival will surely address the oncoming opportunities that are likely to be coming his way will no doubt be the same as how he executes his craft from the mound – attacking each opportunity and being well prepared with his eyes wide open.