The Midwest, especially Chicago, doesn’t get a whole lot of attention when it comes to high school baseball. But every once in awhile, a player demands the attention. Such is the case this year for Corey Ray, a top 2013 MLB draft prospect for Simeon Academy, located in Chicago’s South Side.
The 5’-11”, 190-pound left-hander led his team to back-to-back city titles this season. He was an absolute beast down the stretch, hitting .513 over his final 13 games with four doubles, five triples, three home runs, 19 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Corey Ray is a quick-twitch athlete who can play all three outfield spots due to his instincts, strong arm and speed. At the plate, he has excellent bat speed and can spray the ball to all fields.
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I was able to bounce some questions off Corey Ray, and I would like to thank him for his time:
After a great regular season, you seemed to take it to another level in the postseason. Were you just getting better pitches to hit or did you just find a groove?
Success at the plate comes from approach, in my opinion, so I simplified my approach. I cut my swing down, focused on getting my foot down and barreling the ball up. Good things happen when you use the whole field as a hitter.
Can you describe the feeling of winning back-to-back city championships?
It’s surreal. My team was doubted from the beginning, and I used that as motivation. I always knew we could do it, and we would not be denied.
In a city known for producing top-level point guards, including former Simeon alum Derrick Rose, what was it about baseball that made you choose the diamond early on?
At the age of four, I took my first step on the field. I knew that was where I belonged. One of my dad’s closest friends started a Little League team and needed one more player to fill his roster. He stuck me in center field, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.
Who has been the biggest influence in your baseball career?
The biggest influence in my baseball career has been my grandfather. I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand how many of my games he has missed throughout my high school career. No matter what the weather may be, I can count on my grandfather to be in the stands with my Gatorade and telling me how many good pitches I let go by.
What was it about the University of Louisville that made you commit?
The University of Louisville is a great school. The feel of the campus, the feel I had for the coaches and just the persona of the team is what attracted me to go there. There, I see myself not only growing as an athlete, but as an individual, as well.
What was it like representing Chicago and getting a chance to play at Wrigley for the 2012 Under Armour All-American game?
To even be considered for the Under Armour All-American game is an honor. Add in the fact that I was blessed with the opportunity to represent Chicago, it is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was my first time ever playing at Wrigley and, when I stepped foot on the field, I found myself amazed by the tradition of, in my opinion, the most historic ballpark in the big leagues.
Simeon has a storied tradition in basketball having won four straight state titles and seven overall since 1984. The baseball team is catching up fast, however. How has the support been for you guys and how does it feel to be part of a new growing tradition?
The support system at Simeon is second to none. Everyday, people commend our team for the things that we have accomplished. Simeon is big on sports, so whenever there was a game, the results were announced on the intercom and the baseball team was celebrated. Yes, our basketball team has won four state championships in a row, but our goal as the baseball team was to get the Simeon baseball program back on the map. We were tired of just being known as a basketball school.
As your high school career wraps up, can you pinpoint one moment that stands out as best?
Actually, I can’t pinpoint just one moment. From the back-to-back city championships with Simeon, to winning The World Wood Bat Tournament with Team Marrucci, to USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars, as well as the All-American and Area Code Games, my experience as a baseball player has been one I will never forget.
What type of player would you describe yourself as?
I would describe myself as an all-around baseball player. I can go get it in the outfield, can hit gap-to-gap, can steal bases, have occasional power, am a smart ball player and, no matter what, I have the drive to compete day in and day out.
I would like to thank Corey Ray for his time during this hectic time of year. You can follow him and his journey on Twitter @FutureIs_Bright.
You an also follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2013 MLB draft updates, prospect news and Chicago Cubs ramblings.