The 2022 Ocean State Waves, of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, have a roster full of top collegiate baseball talent from some of the best college baseball programs in the USA. Players travel from all over the country, stay with host families, play in a highly competitive environment game after game in front of scouts and fans, and become a part of the Waves community from roughly the end of May/early June until sometime in August. This 2022 Waves team is absolutely stacked with baseball talent, take a look at this photo posted on the Ocean State Waves Instagram page. It showcases the college programs that will be represented this summer in the Waves dugout. Very impressive!!!
I am very excited to introduce you to these 2022 Ocean State Waves players, one at a time. This is the next installment of a long series of interviews I have done with the incoming players slated to play for the 2022 Ocean State Waves. The players answered questions on their baseball journey, their mentors and childhood baseball heroes, the process of going from top high school talent to collegiate student athlete, and what their expectations are for their Spring and Summer Baseball seasons. Next up, from Alexandria, Alabama and Belmont University, Pitcher Jalen Borders.
Tell me a little bit about your baseball roots starting with your local Little League and then
possibly your AAU or travel ball. What was that experience like?
- I played Little League, starting at the age of 4, with Saks Youth Baseball in Anniston, Alabama. I began playing travel baseball when I was 9 and played all the way through high school, finishing with Excel Baseball Academy out of Oxford, AL. Playing at such a competitive level starting at such a young age has really allowed me to develop as a competitor as well as a baseball player.
If you would like to, name some of your baseball and life mentors who helped you along the way.
- Obviously my parents first and foremost, then my high school coaches: Wes Ginn, Andy Shaw, Zak Welch, and Jake Welch. Todd Mixon, Roby Brooks, and all the guys of Excel Baseball (Manny Maniscalco, Josh Beshears, Judd Edwards).
Think back, what is your earliest memory of baseball? A catch with a sibling, your first hit, a trip to an MLB or Minor League game?
- An All-Star team trip to an Atlanta Braves game was my first memory of actually falling in love with the game.
How about childhood idols – a professional baseball player, actor, musician – who was a person or persons who you wanted to meet as a kid? And did you ever get the opportunity to meet that person(s)?
- Clayton Kershaw was a childhood idol of mine, I was never able to meet him though. As time has grown on, it slowly became Mike Trout, who I have never been able to meet.
Did you have a favorite ballpark growing up that you played in or saw a game at?
- Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, was my favorite ballpark to watch a game at when growing up. My favorite park to play at was Choccolocco Park in Oxford, AL.
What was your primary position in youth baseball, high school?
- In high school, I was a primary pitcher who could also play first base and outfield.
Did you play multiple sports growing up or did you focus primarily on baseball? Do/Did you see a benefit to playing multiple sports?
- I also played basketball throughout my youth and high school career. Basketball kept me in shape and allowed me to not overuse my body for baseball. It also kept me from getting burned out on one sport.
Brag a little bit, what would you say was your best game? Could be a Little League game or High School game or something more recent. What made this game stand out in your mind?
- My best game from recent memory was my senior year of high school where I went 5 innings with 1 hit, 2 walks, and 12 strikeouts in a win.
You are from Alexandria, Alabama and now attend Belmont University. I’m fairly confident you received offers from schools outside of your home state. What was it about the Belmont baseball program that interested you to play there?
- I am from Alexandria, Alabama and now attend Belmont University in Nashville, TN. The beauty of the campus originally attracted me to this school, but the coaching staff and promised facilities (which we have now) really sold me.
Academically, where are you headed degree wise, and down the road maybe career wise?
- Exercise Science with a minor in Sports Medicine. I would like to ultimately become an athletic trainer at the collegiate or professional level.
On the baseball front, what are some of your personal and team goals for yourself and your baseball program at (school) this Spring?
- A personal goal that I have is to make the all-conference team, a team goal for us is to win the conference championship then ultimately win a World Series.
You are slated to play for the Ocean State Waves in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, one of the top summer baseball collegiate leagues in the country. First off, congratulations. What was your reaction to finding out you will be suiting up for the Waves this summer?
- I was pumped for 1) I have never been to the Northeast before, so being able to not only visit, but call it home for a summer, and 2) to be able to play baseball at such a high level of competition.
First thing that comes to mind when someone mentions “Rhode Island,” which happens to be the Ocean State. Second, do you plan on taking a surfing lesson when you arrive here this summer?
- The first thing that comes to mind when I hear Rhode Island is history, I think of old-timey towns with a lot of historical background. I have never been surfing before so given the opportunity, I would love to take a surfing lesson.
This summer, you will be playing with and against some of the top collegiate baseball players each game for the Waves. What do you think playing top competition will do to your game?
- I think it will up my game as well. It will help me better understand myself as a pitcher as far as what I can and cannot get away with pitch wise. But it will also allow me to have conversations with other guys who are in the same boat I am, so I would love to be able to learn a couple things from teammates and opposing players but also be able to teach something to someone else.
Is this your first summer of collegiate baseball or did you play in previous summers? If so, which league(s) and for what team(s)?
- This is my third summer playing in a collegiate summer league. In 2020 I played in a pickup league in Montgomery, AL called the Alabama Collegiate League. In 2021, last summer, I played in the Prospect League with the Cape Catfish out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri (where I won a summer league championship).
Play scout for a moment. What should Waves fans know about your game? Are you a power pitcher? Home run power? Going to lead the league in steals? On base percentage guy?
- I feel like I am kind of an all-around pitcher. I don’t have overpowering velocity on the mound, but I have some solid off-speed pitches and pretty solid command of all 3 pitches.
The Ocean State Waves have an incredible legacy of community service work with local youth baseball leagues, schools, and other local non-profits. Can you give me an example of a non-profit or charity that you have done community service work for and why did you choose that charity?
- Cooper Trooper Pumpkin Patch has been a thing for not only me, but for all of Belmont Baseball. It’s a charity organization run by the Cooper Trooper Foundation that helps support funding for pediatric cancer at the Children’s Hospital of Vanderbilt.
Where can Waves fans find you this upcoming collegiate baseball season at Belmont Baseball and follow you this Spring?
- Belmont Baseball Website – Belmont Baseball
- Belmont University Baseball on Twitter – Belmont Baseball
- Jalen Borders on Twitter – @jalen_borders
And stay tuned each week for another Waves roster player profile and as always, any Waves news and notes to keep you up to date on their 2022 summer baseball season.