George Washington High School standout Blake Bivens has been committed to the Liberty University baseball program for almost one year. Now heading into his senior season this spring, Bivens is excited to finish his high school career on a high note before entering college as a member of the Liberty Flames.
Committing to play baseball for a university in your junior year of high school can be rather daunting and overwhelming, often leading many young recruits to decommit from one program and commit to another. As for Bivens, choosing Liberty was not only an easy decision, but to him, the right decision.
“I believe that having the peace of mind of knowing that you are where God wants you in the present and that He has a plan for your future is the greatest gift a person can have. This made choosing Liberty an easy decision for me. I also wanted to be a part of a baseball program that was investing in their future and expecting to win immediately. Liberty is finishing up a new state-of-the-art baseball stadium and baseball training center that will be the finest facility in Virginia.”
Over the course of this year, Bivens has made a name for himself on the national prep scene, having recently impressed those in attendance at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Florida. Bivens turned in one of the more impressive pitching performances of the entire event, tossing six strong innings of one-run ball in the Evoshield Canes’ 2-1 victory against SCORE International in the first round of competition.
Bivens was high and above his fellow competition at the event, displaying impressive command of his pitch arsenal and consistently maintaining velocity on his fastball in the low-90s, something that scouts who have watched him play on multiple occasions suggested he had not done before.
“I didn’t realize I was throwing as hard as I was,” Bivens said. “I was able to get enough rest heading into the event and my arm felt good, but I didn’t know if my mechanics were going to be there. And they were on point and I was able to figure it out in the bullpen.”
Jeff Petty, General Manager of the Evoshield Canes, had this to say of Bivens prior to the young right-hander’s stint with the Canes this year:
“Blake has already accomplished more in 2 years at the high school level than most do in a whole career and the scary part is that he has 2 years left. Selfishly we know he is going to pitch some big games in the future for the Canes. You know what you are going to get when Bivens toes the rubber he is going to compete in the zone with 3 pitches. His fastball has touched 90 MPH at times, and his velocity consistently sticks in the mid 80′s.
“Something we are all confident of as he gets older, and the arm gets stronger he is going to be able to sustain his velocity for longer, because we all know that he can pitch at a high level. Make up wise he is an outstanding person, and the kind of kid we want representing our program on, and off the field.”
Given the success achieved by Bivens throughout the summer and fall with the Canes, it is no doubt that the above-mentioned statements by Petty have certainly been validated and then some.
On Thursday, Baseball America released its annual Top 100 High School Prospects for the 2014 Draft list, wherein Bivens was ranked 44th overall. Bivens was the 16th-ranked right-handed pitcher and the top ranked prospect from the state of Virginia.
From a scouting standpoint, Bivens has a relatively high ceiling due to a mature, seasoned approach. Bivens has a strong, athletic frame (6-2, 200) and a smooth delivery due in part to sound mechanics and good balance.
He throws on a downhill plane, which coupled with good deception and quick arm action allows for the ball to jump out of his hand upon delivery.
He commands his two primary pitches, a fastball that sits between 88-92 MPH with solid movement and a 12-6 curveball with tight rotation and devastating break, very well, wherein he is able to paint the strike zone with each and effectively utilize both offerings as legitimate out pitches.
He will need to develop a more diverse pitch arsenal if he wishes to remain starter in college, which should not be a difficult process as Bivens already possesses the raw skill and ceiling level to become a successful starting pitcher in Division I ball.
Since announcing his commitment to Liberty, Bivens has put in the work to become a successful future pitcher at the college level. Thus far, he has not disappointed scouts across the country and more importantly, those at Liberty.
“This off season [prior to his junior season] I decided to try and become the pitcher that every college would want in their starting rotation and I knew that the first thing I had to do was to get my velocity up. To accomplish this I decided to work mainly on pitching mechanics. I have worked with a pro scout this winter to unlock my velocity. This has been very successful because I have jumped from a hard 85-88 mph to an easy 89-92 mph.
“In addition, I have also worked on my arm, core, and leg strength, as well as adding in a stretching sequence to my daily routine. I have also shed off some weight to get quicker down the mound. I knew I needed to work on my foot speed to show the coaches that I was all in from here on out.”
The future looks bright for Liberty’s future starting pitcher, but for now, Bivens will set his focus on his senior season at George Washington, while the Flames will look to the upcoming season in 2014, prepared to defend their Big South title and advance to their fifth NCAA Tournament in school history.