Heading into this summer, Ryan McNeil had already proven himself as one of the most talented baseball players on the Central Coast.
Earlier this month, he vindicated himself as one of the best in the state, if not the country.
McNeil, Nipomo High’s 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander entering his senior year, played at two of the most high-profile scouting showcases in the nation in recent weeks, first at the Area Code Games in Long Beach from Aug. 5-10 and then at the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego on Aug. 14.
“It’s been hectic,” McNeil said, “but it’s been fun. I’ve had a lot of new experiences and have gotten to play against some of the top players in the nation.
“It happened so fast,” he added. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet how serious it’s getting.”
The whirlwind also included a nonbinding verbal commitment to Long Beach State, a program where his older brother and former teammate, Jeff McNeil, was a starting outfielder this past season as a true freshman.
As a junior, Ryan McNeil helped lead the Titans (17-6) to a share of the Los Padres League championship and a first-round CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoff win.
McNeil, whose fastball was clocked this summer at 93 mph, was named the league’s MVP after finishing the season with a 1.40 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 65 innings.
He continued to impress at the offseason events.
An article by ESPN RISE’s Cal-Hi Sports listed McNeil as the 30th-best junior or senior pitcher overall (12th-best in California) at the Area Code Games, which were reportedly attended by 350 scouts and 100 college coaches.
Then at the All-American Classic, he got one inning of work in a game nationally televised by CBS Sports Network, striking out two batters and walking one while not allowing a hit during the West team’s 6-2 win at the Padres’ Petco Park. Only 46 players nationally (23 per team) were chosen for that game.
“That was just incredible,” McNeil said. “It was just an honor to be selected for that.”
While his brother also chose Long Beach State, McNeil said he took the 49ers’ “very generous offer” based primarily on their coaching staff and tradition.
Of course, there’s a realistic possibility that McNeil may be in a position to bypass college, depending on where he could be taken in the MLB Draft next year.
McNeil said that assurances aren’t typically given at this stage, but “if (he) had to guess, it would be in the top 10 rounds, but you can’t really say for sure.”
Nipomo head coach John Stevens called McNeil, who’s also a basketball star able to pull off a variety of two-handed dunks, one of the most gifted pure athletes he has coached.
“He has the potential to do anything he wants in baseball,” Stevens said. “He has every door available to him open; his potential is unlimited.”
Stevens said that being such a widely known commodity could make his senior year a bit different from previous ones in terms of the pressure he may face.
“Everyone knows who he is now and what he’s done,” Stevens said. “It’ll be good for him. It’s just part of the learning process and growing process as he prepares himself for going on to the next level.
“His big thing is to not get too far ahead of himself and to make sure he focuses on the fact that he’s got another spring to play. He had such an outstanding junior year, it’s going to be hard to top it, but if there’s any athlete I know of who can, it’s him.”