As they made eye contact, right away he knew this was what he’d been looking for. The feeling in his chest was one he’d never felt before. The figure he saw upon first glance made him weak all over. His hands started trembling. His heart began to race. Knees started knocking. Butterflies became entangled inside his stomach. Palms got sweaty. He cleared his throat, gathered himself, and tried not to screw this up.
The person in his line of sight never spoke a word. Didn’t have to. This was his shot to impress — perhaps a one-time deal. The pressure was on.
It’s not often a 6’4, 250-plus pound man feels the way Silas Bohannan felt that day. Like staring down the barrel of a loaded gun with no time to react, he never knew what was about to hit him when he turned around.
Oh, but this wasn’t a chance encounter with the woman of his dreams. No. What locked eyes with Bohannan was a man with a notepad and pencil, menacingly taking notes. He was hardly an intimidating sight on his own accord, but professional baseball scouts have a way of making athletes tremble.
It was an odd situation for the 2011 NHS graduate to be in. Normally he’s the one intimidating the opposition.
“I look up on the mound and he was right there looking at me with notepad and paper writing stuff down,” Bohannan said. “I couldn’t find the baseball. I didn’t know where the baseball was. I had it in my hand the whole time and I couldn’t find it. I thought I dropped it. I was looking around for it. I couldn’t feel my legs. I was so nervous.”
This was, after all, uncharted territory for the right-handed Neosho native. The presence of the interested scoutwasn’t by happenstance. The scout was there to see if the rumors he’d been hearing about the big right-hander were valid. It couldn’t have taken him long to find out.
Rewind to the spring of 2011. Bohannan, a pitcher/infielder for the Wildcats’ baseball team sits and wonders if his shot will ever come. He wanted to play college baseball, and knew he was good enough that if someone would only give him a shot they’d never regret it. But for the longest time it didn’t seem it would happen.
Teams simply weren’t lining up to ink the big guy with the fastball that sat in the low-to-mid-80s. But Bohannan never gave up, and eventually he found one offer on the table. It was from North Central Missouri College in Trenton, Mo., and they wanted two more of his teammates, Tyler Marion and Jacob Patterson, as well. It didn’t take long for Bohannan to make up his mind.
Page 2 of 3 - “I remember whenever me, Marion and Patty all got offers last year,” Bohannan said. “I remember telling Tyler, ‘I’ll go if you go,’ and he kind of told me the same answer, so then that day we were like, ‘We’ll go to North Central.’”
Almost immediately upon joining the Pirates, Bohannan began to transform himself. His training regimens increased in intensity and regularity from the workouts he’d done at the high school level. He began running one, two, sometimes even three miles a day and began to play long toss on a regular basis, even increasing the intensity of that workout by using a softball.
Pretty soon that work began to pay off. His velocity crept up to 88-89 mph by the end of the summer, and shortly thereafter he touched 92. The increase in velocity helped Bohannan compile a 0.90 ERA over 20 innings in 29 appearances on the mound as a freshman for the NJCAA Division I Pirates.
In all, Bohannan allowed seven runs, only two earned, with 17 strikeout and eight walks while going 1-1 in the win/loss department with one save while working out of the Pirates’ bullpen. At the plate he hit .295 with six doubles, 14 RBI and a home run.
Still, little buzz formed around Bohannan as his Pirates team struggled to find the win column.
But Bohannan trudged on with the same will and determination that consumed him in high school. He worked harder than ever during the offseason, and that hard work was magnified when he returned to the mound this fall and began to set the radar gun ablaze.
First, he reached 94. Then, at the NCMCC alumni game two weeks ago, Bohannan turned the buzz into a full-fledged frenzy. When his work was completed, Bohannan asked for the radar gun readings: 95, 96, 96, 96 … 98.
The phones started ringing. The social media scene on Twitter was set ablaze.
“If there’s one thing that will get the attention of scouts, it’s velocity,” said Greg Schaum, founder and scouting director for the amateur draft at pinetarpress.com, and one who helped set fire to the Bohannan craze on Twitter. “Silas’ future is in his hands now. If he will continue to work hard and stay dedicated to his throwing program, then his future looks bright.”
Not only have scouts been calling to find out when he’s pitching next, but draft advisors also began to circle. MLB Rule IV Draft paperwork began to get passed to him, and last Saturday Bohannan agreed with Full Circle Sports Management draft advisor Drew Owen, agent for such MLB stars as Saint Louis Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal, to assist him leading up to the draft. Per NCAA rules, Owen is not Bohannan’s agent.
Page 3 of 3 - Campus visits to the University of Missouri and others are also in the works.
“The last two, three weeks, every day I’ve been talking to someone,” Bohannan said. “These last two weeks have been pretty crazy. Not every situation is going to be perfect. If I didn’t go where I wanted to go (in the draft) then another year of school would not be that bad.
“It’s definitely a nice situation. It makes you feel good. Thanks to baseball I’m getting a free education right now. Not very many people can say that. It’s a great opportunity.”
Regardless of what the future has in store Bohannan says there are plenty of folks to thank for helping him along the way.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me,” Bohannan said. “Especially my catchers at North Central. They work their (backsides) off for me. Ninety (mph) in the dirt is not fun. I want to mention Marion because he (complains) about everything in the dirt. But he gets back there and he bears with me, so I’d like to thank all of the catchers that work out there for me.”
As the mysterious scout filed his notepad away and headed for his car, he took with him a secret as discreet as the 98 mile per hour fastball hidden inside that Wildcats uniform in 2011. It may never be known what was scribbled on that notebook paper, but if Bohannan hears his name called by a big league team in June, he’ll probably have a good idea.