It's been four years since Hanahan baseball coach Brian Mitchell sat in the press box at Sportsman's Field and watched a freshman pitcher challenge and beat some of the top hitters in the Hanahan Invitational Tournament.
"That's not fair. That's nasty," Mitchell said in amazement as he watched a young Drew Cisco pitch with precision, poise and panache. "He's a freshman, but could be the No. 1 starter at some of the colleges in South Carolina. I'm not talking about South Carolina or Clemson, but he could go to a school like Francis Marion and be their No. 1 starter even though he's a freshman in high school."
Today, Cisco, a 6-1, 185-pound right-hander, is in the final year of his high school career and is headed to the University of Georgia, where he could contend for the No. 1 spot in the Bulldogs' rotation. Or he could skip college altogether and sign a professional contract if the bonus money is a life-changing amount. Every major league team has contacted him, and it's common to see scouts with their radar guns checking the speed of Cisco's pitches.
Nearly 30 scouts were on hand for his season debut against Dorman in the International Paper Baseball Classic, and more than a dozen showed up on a recent Saturday afternoon to watch him pitch against Bishop England.
And the scouts should be out in droves if a possible matchup becomes reality in the HIT. Cisco could face Stetson Allie of Lakewood St. Ed on Wednesday in the third round of the tournament if both teams live up to their lofty national rankings.
Allie, who has signed to play for the University of North Carolina, has some control issues, but throws a fastball in the upper 90s on a consistent basis. He also has great power, and the combination of his hitting and pitching skills make him one of the top prospects in the country.
Cisco is ready for the challenge of going up against the ace of the St. Ed's staff.
"It's going to be a great game," said Cisco, who is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.27. "But we both have to take care of business on Monday and Tuesday to make that happen. Allie is a great player and person. I played with him in the (Under Armour) All-American game (at Wrigley Field) last summer. He's a great player on a great team, but we feel like we can stack up against them."
Wando is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in every poll that ranks teams in South Carolina. Cisco says his main focus is to help the Warriors win their first state championship. He says it's easy to block out the major league scouts when they show up to watch him pitch.
"In reality, it's pretty similar to when the college scouts showed up to watch me," Cisco said.
But college scouts offered scholarships and impressing the right major league scout could mean a life-changing signing bonus. Cisco said he's torn between college and professional baseball and says one of the things on his to-do list is sit down with his family and come up with the amount he would need to bypass college for the pros.
"I have to admit that I think about playing major league baseball," Cisco said. "You think about that when you go to bed at night. You'd have to be crazy not to think about it if it has been a dream all of your life. But I keep it in perspective."