Local players enjoy busy summer playing for TKB Baseball

Ray Hamill/ – Parker Rodgers in action for TKB Baseball this summer.

By Ray Hamill — Several local baseball players are getting the opportunity to showcase their talents to college coaches this summer while playing for TKB baseball out of the Bay Area.

A dedicated group of McKinleyville and Eureka players have been making the trek south regularly to practice with the club while also traveling to compete in tournaments that feature some of the top clubs from all across the nation, according to TKB founder and coach Tuan Nguyen.

But that’s the idea behind this youth baseball development program.

“We’re trying to get these kids exposed to a high level of baseball,” Nguyen said.

Ten local players have played for TKB Baseball this summer, including former Eureka Loggers Parker Rodgers and Kennan Morris, who are on the club’s collegiate team, which played a couple of games against the Humboldt Crabs at the Arcata Ball Park earlier in the summer.

Current Loggers Ty Crawford and Robert Williams have also featured heavily for the TKB 16U team, along with McKinleyville’s Evan Fraser, Bryce Sargent, Tenoch Tapia, Pat Wilson and Tyson Bragg.

Arcata’s Ben Lukens also has played with the team this summer.

And most of the local contingent have impressed Nguyen, especially with their dedication.

“I think I’ve got probably the best kids from your area and they’ve all got a lot of talent and potential, for sure,” he said. “And I like the way they grind and their commitment. (Some of them) drive six hours to practice with me and they understand what it takes to play at the next level.”

Nguyen, who founded TKB Baseball in 2013, has been putting his players on the radar of collegiate programs for years, and says he only works with players who he believes have the work ethic and talent to succeed beyond high school.

Photo by Erik Fraser – Evan Fraser is one of five McKinleyville players playing for TKB Baseball this summer.

Photo by Erik Fraser – Bryce Sargent

“The next level is hard to play, but I promise if you play for me and play hard I’ll get you somewhere,” he said, adding “I’m not going to sugar coat anything. We’ve got 18 guys and we can rotate no problem. Don’t waste my time or your parents’ money or time.”

Nguyen believes the Humboldt County players on his rosters are a dedicated bunch.

“They’re willing to do it, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

Three of the local players have received college offers this summer, according to the coach.

Rodgers, who played at College of the Redwoods this past spring, also has impressed his coaches.

Photo by Erik Fraser – Ty Crawford

Keenan Morris in action for TKB Baseball this summer.

“Parker Rodgers is coming along,” Nguyen said. “Parker’s playing better every game. He’s a good kid to have in the dugout. Our coaching staff really likes him.”

Some of the younger players — in particular Crawford, Williams and Fraser — have put in a lot of work and are showing a lot of improvement as players, both physically and mentally.

Sargent too is “starting to realize what it takes to play at the next level and coming around more and more,” according to Nguyen.

Tapia also has been working hard and is “learning good baseball,” while Wilson, Nguyen believes, has a big upside after an impressive freshman campaign at Mack High this year.

“I think you’ve got a lot of talent there,” he said. “And I hope I can get more players out of the area.”

Photo by Erik Fraser – Robert Williams

Photo by Erik Fraser – Tenoch Tapia

Categories: Arcata, baseball, Eureka, McKinleyville

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