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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018 3 months ago

Trinity Prep trio shines at MLB Draft | Observer Preps

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Ryan Olenek, Austin Hale and Slade Cecconi all were selected during the 2018 MLB Draft.
by: Troy Herring Associate Editor

Not everyone gets to have their name called on draft day, but that’s exactly what happened for three former Trinity Prep Saints.

During the MLB’s three-day draft in Secaucus, New Jersey, Ryan Olenek (2015), Austin Hale (2014) and Slade Cecconi (2018) were picked up June 6 — the final day of the draft — by the San Francisco Giants, Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles, respectively. 

Ryan Olenek

The selection of the trio adds MLB picks to a program that has become a solid pipeline to pro ball. Max Moroff (2012) and Billy Cooke (2014) also heard their names called in previous years.

The progress has largely come under four-year head coach Trevor Berryhill, who coached both Olenek and Cecconi at Trinity Prep.

“It’s very special to be at Trinity Prep, and I’m thankful to be the head coach there, and for us to have three players drafted … it’s extremely special,” Berryhill said. “It goes to show that we might be a small school, but we have a lot of really good baseball talent.”

Olenek, currently a junior at Ole Miss, was the first of the three taken off the board, when he was drafted by the Giants in the 17th round. Although he generally played roles at shortstop, center field and pitcher during his time at Trinity Prep, at Ole Miss, Olenek has become the go-to man out in center. Last season, he started in all 53 games — 51 in center and two at third-base — and became a dominant figure on both sides of the ball.

At the plate, Olenek hit for .272 with 25 RBI and three home runs; he also accounted for 23 runs and led the team with 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts. His efforts helped Olenek pick up a spot on the All-SEC First Team and lead Ole Miss to an SEC title and the super regionals — where the Rebels fell to Tennessee Tech.

Austin Hale

“Ryan Olenek will be the first player I ever coached at Trinity Prep that was drafted,” Berryhill said. “He was a senior my first year, and to see him go from the player he was at Trinity to continue to blossom in both aspects will always be very special to me.”

Next off the board was Hale, a senior at Stetson, who went in the 28th round to the Twins.

For the Saints, Hale became a force behind the plate, thanks to a strong and accurate arm that could stifle an opposing team’s game. He was also a middle-of-the-order kind of batter who swung a big bat.

His time at Trinity offered up a chance to play D1 ball for the Hatters, where he became the starting catcher. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Hale was a consistent hitter, with a career average of .257 to go along with his 85 RBI and nine homers. His efforts helped lead the Hatters to the super regionals this year.

Although Berryhill didn’t get to directly coach Hale during his time at Trinity Prep, he was familiar with the young catcher and has kept in touch with him.

“My first head coaching job was at Father Lopez, and we use to always play home-and-away games against Trinity Prep, so I coached against him when he was in high school,” Berryhill said. “I took over in 2015 — he graduated in 2014 — but he would come back hit in the cages and hit in the field and would do a bunch of stuff in the offseason, so we definitely kept in touch and have a good relationship.”

Recent grad Cecconi got the call in the 38th round that he had been selected by the Orioles — although Berryhill said he turned down the offer and will be sticking to his current course of continuing his baseball career at the University of Miami in the fall.

Although his senior season at Trinity Prep had the young pitcher focus mostly on the offensive side of the ball — where he batted .388 and led the team in homers with six total — Cecconi will go to Miami as a pitcher.

Slade Cecconi

It’s a decision that makes sense when you consider that as a junior, Cecconi pitched 40 innings — going 6-1 while striking out 70 and walking a half dozen.

In his senior season, he picked up multiple honors, including being named a Perfect Game All-American, as well as an Under Armour All-American.

“I’ve had Cecconi since he was a freshman, so he is also special in a way that he was in the first graduating class I was with for four years,” Berryhill said. “To see him grow both as a person and player and size — he was 5-foot-9 when I got to Trinity, and now he is about 6-foot-4. This won’t be the last time that Slade is drafted.”

Although Berryhill wouldn’t give up too many secrets as to how Trinity Prep has become a MLB pipeline, he did say that a big part of it is the players themselves.

“Clearly if you are drafted, you’re in a very upper echelon class of baseball players and you have to be talented, but you also have to have some drive and all of these guys, they have something different,” Berryhill said. “They’re not just really good — they work really hard.”

Troy Herring is the associate editor at the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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