When Dylan Farrell plays college baseball next spring at Central Missouri, he wants to have an impact similar to what he had during his sophomore season with the MCC-Longview Lakers.
“I hope so,” the former Grain Valley High School and Blue Springs Post 499 Fike Legion standout said after finishing his summer season in the Ban Johnson League, a Kansas City area collegiate league. “I’m going to try my hardest to work in the offseason and be ready in the spring.”
However, Central Missouri, an NCAA Division II power, would be hard-pressed to expect Farrell to approximate his numbers from 2014, given how high of a bar he set in an All-America season.
While Longview finished with a 29-30 record, it received contributions in abundance from Farrell, who led the nation (NJCAA Division II) with his .471 batting average, 99 hits, 10 triples and 42 stolen bases.
His 78 runs scored, 71 runs batted in and .819 slugging percentage all were second-best in the nation, his 14 home runs ranked fifth-best and his .529 on-base percentage ranked ninth-best. For good measure, he covered plenty of ground in center field, too.
“It was one of, if not the greatest season I’ve seen anybody have,” Longview coach Clint Culbertson said, comparing the statistics to those from a video game player. “He’s what I call an uber-athlete, having the physical tools to play the game.
That’s no small talk coming from a coach who just the year before saw Lee’s Summit North grad Brandon Dulin hit .376 with a .733 slugging percentage, 18 doubles, 13 homers and 57 RBIs en route to being drafted by the Kansas City Royals.
“He was a little raw in some of his areas,” Culbertson said of when Farrell arrived on campus, “but over his two years he refined that, especially his hitting. The biggest thing – and I think he’ll tell you that – was his head for the game was better. With his experience, he knew how people were going to try to pitch him.”
As a freshman, Farrell hit .337 with no home runs, 13 RBIs, 40 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, a .421 on-base percentage and .471 slugging percentage. Great numbers, some of them, though not quite an indication of what was to come.
Farrell said during the summer of 2013 he looked at his stats and saw where he could improve, and he remembered some lessons received in his youth from former Grain Valley standout Brett Sorensen.
“He said the power (in the swing) is going to come from your legs,” Farrell said. “I focused on getting my legs stronger and on the bottom half of my swing and having a middle-away approach. It clicked in the fall. I remember I hit a few home runs the other way, and it gave me confidence. With that approach, turning on the ball is more of a reaction.
“My freshman year, I remember toward the end of the season started using the middle-away approach. Before I would always watch (the outside pitch) and wouldn’t swing at it.”
Also, Farrell didn’t sacrifice his speed, something that has always been a big part of his game – from the basepaths to the outfield, and on the high school football field where he played receiver and defensive back.
“I was always kind of scared to work out my legs, but it honestly made me faster,” he said. “I wasn’t too worried about it after I showed I could still steal bases.”
Astounding as Farrell’s numbers might be, his coach at Grain Valley wasn’t too surprised by that level of success.
“He’s a guy who is just a great athlete,” Eagles coach Mark Lyford said. “You look at baseball players, and he had a lot of the tools there – had a strong arm, ran really well, had some good pop in his bat. As a sophomore, I knew he would be a good player for us and a pretty good player down the road.
“You could see the little things mechanically that might be changed. Once he got the next level and was able to focus more on baseball, he was able to make those adjustments.”