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Big (league) reputation: Inside Edge program features several top players from EJC

Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Inside Edge players on the Silvestri 18U team celebrate a victory in the Premier World Series in Joplin this summer. The Inside Edge program features several players from Eastern Jackson County, including, from left, Wyatt Clark (Blue Springs South), Gavin Wilson (Lee's Summit High School), Keaton Latlip (Blue Springs South) and Chase Taylor (Lee's Summit West).

There are travel baseball teams and then there are travel baseball teams with big league connections.

That is exactly where Inside Edge Baseball Academy, pardon the pun, has an edge on competition on the travel circuit.

This marks the seventh year for the Lee’s Summit-based program that features plenty of talented players from Eastern Jackson County. Late last month, three teams from the organization – there are 23 teams from 8U to 18U – took part in the Premier World Series in Joplin.

The Inside Edge 17U team went 4-2 – the other two younger teams did so as well – in the tournament that brought teams from across the country to take part in the event. Premier Baseball is made up of 31 organizations across the United States and has had more than 1,600 players drafted by Major League Baseball teams. The league has some Kansas City-area connections as it was founded by a group that included Dave Bingham, the former head baseball coach at the University of Kansas.

The Inside Edge has big league ties as well, including some big names who are consultants.

Inside Edge was founded by Todd Clausen, who served as the major league strength and conditioning coach for seven years for the Los Angeles Dodgers starting in 1999. Prior to that, he worked five years in the same role for the Tampa Bay Rays in the minor leagues.

Clausen started the academy in 2009 and enlisted the help of a trio of former big leaguers: Eric Gagne, Paul Quantrill and Dave Silvestri.

The first two pitched for the Dodgers and are consultants to Clausen. Quantrill pitched 14 years in the big leagues for seven teams and was an All-Star in 2001. Gagne was a standout reliever, earning the Cy Young Award in 2003 and set an MLB record by converting 84 consecutive save opportunities.

Clausen noted those two played bigger roles the first five years the program launched.

Silvestri played at Missouri, becoming a two-time All-American and played for the U.S. Olympic team in 1988. He played for five teams in the big leagues before managing in the Rays' and Dodgers' organizations. He is now the 18U coach for Inside Edge, which features plenty of talented players.

So far, the team has had two players commit to play for Division I teams – both Mizzou – that were juniors this year in Blue Springs South’s Isaiah Frost and Lee’s Summit West’s Cam Careswell. Zach Dillman, a 2020 graduate from Lee’s Summit West will play at Missouri State.

This is Frost’s first year with the team and he plays with Blue Springs South teammates Wyatt Clark and Keaton Latlip.

“It is really cool to play with them,” Frost said of joining Inside Edge, which has players from nine different high schools on Silvestri’s team. “We have a nice little bond together and we formed a nice family in the baseball team. It is really fun to play with all of these guys.”

Schools represented on the 18s also feature Columbia Rock Bridge, Butler, Clinton, Rockhurst, Lee’s Summit, Raytown and Lee’s Summit North. The 17U team – on which some of them play depending on the tournament – is coached by Will Mayle, Oak Park’s head coach.

The lone Lee’s Summit North player is catcher Logan Muckey, who has played for various Inside Edge teams for the past eight years, starting at 8U.

“I love the people, everyone inside Inside Edge is amazing,” said Muckey, who also plays wide receiver for the Broncos football team. “They make you feel you are part of a family and not so much a team. The parents of our players are awesome and always welcoming and they always got your back. Overall, there is amazing energy. We travel all the time and everyone is friends. This group of guys we have … we have a bond that is unmatchable. We literally, we have a brotherhood. We hang out together outside of practice. When we are at hotels we are always together, and when we are home we are always going to someone’s house to hang out.”

Muckey is still trying to weigh his options in college between football or baseball. He doesn’t have offers for either sport yet, going into his senior season.

His dad, Darren, played college baseball at Northwest Missouri State University and was a catcher as well.

“Growing up, he and I would work catching-wise and he would give me tips no else could give me,” Muckey said of his dad. “Having a college baseball catcher around was great. He let me do what I wanted to do and I found a love for catching. He helped me and guided me to who I am and the player I am. He taught me basically everything I know.”

Clausen expects quite a few more players off this team to go onto Division I teams and he said everyone will play in college at some level. The 2020 grad class had two other players move on, one to Drury and another to Dordt.

Clausen noted that Clark is a hot prospect due to his 6-foot-5 frame, which appeals at both of his positions as a first baseman and right-handed pitcher. Clausen called Latlip, the team’s shortstop, another prospect whose stock rose this summer.

“We got really high-end players that play against each other during high school ball and come and play with each other during the summer,” Clausen said of the 18U team that went 21-9-1 this summer. “They are a really talented group and they are really good boys. It is fun to coach them … most of them (17- and 18-year-olds) came over when they were 11 years old and some came over later. It just keeps getting better. We are teaching them the game. We want to develop them and teach them how to play the right way and create opportunities for themselves. We are lucky we have good players that come play for us.”

Inside Edge 18U player Isaiah Frost slaps hands with a coach during game in the Premier World Series this summer in Joplin. Frost, a Blue Springs South High School senior who has verbally commited to Missouri, plays for the team coached by former Mizzou star and major leaguer Dave Silvestri.