From as far away as Yakima, Wash., and Albuquerque, N.M., county baseball players are showing they have what it takes to excel.
Here'sa midsummer guide to what some of the best have accomplished recently.
Greg Smith (Glenelg) of Sykesville had one brief stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers this year and is now playing for the Dodgers' AAA Albuquerque Dukes farm team.
In 48 games with Albuquerque, he's batting .217 with 35 hits in 161 at bats. He's scored 25 times and has 17 RBI. He has three doubles and two triples.
In the field, Smith has a .971 percentage with six errors in 208 chances.
Ben O'Connor (Mount St. Joseph) of Ellicott City, former University of Maryland Baltimore County baseball star and a Dayton American Legion alumnus, ispitching for the Yakima Bears in Washington state this summer.
Big Ben, 6-1, 190 pounds, a lefty, has a 1-1 record with one save and an earned run average at 2.00. He pitches middle relief.
Yakima is a Class A farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers and plays in the Northwest League.
Another Dayton alumnus, Mark Carper (Atholton) of Highland, is also pitching for a Class A team, the Keys, in nearby Frederick. The team is a Baltimore Orioles affiliate.
The latest stats on Carper, who played college ball at Stanford University, are a 2-3 record with a 4.17 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
Two more Dayton grads, Chris Grubb and Chris Tressler, had outstanding seasons for Elizabeth town College, a Division III school in Elizabethtown, Pa.
Both were named to the Middle Atlantic Conference Northwest Section All-Star squad.
Grubb (Mount Hebron) of Ellicott City, a second baseman-pitcher, batted .314 with 37 hits. He scored 32 runs and stole 10 bases in 10 attempts. On the mound, the right-hander was 7-2 with a 3.07 ERA and three saves.
Tressler (Atholton) of Laurel, a left-handed pitcher, compiled a 6-0 record with a 3.26 ERA. He was second on the team in innings pitched, with 49 2/3, and third in strikeouts, with 36.
Howie Brown (Wilde Lake) of Columbia and A. J. Kehoe (Hammond) ofColumbia both compiled some significant pitching time for UMBC this spring.
Brown was 3-1 with one save in 38 innings. Kehoe, another Dayton alumnus, was 3-4 in 47 innings.
Another Dayton grad, Brent Nickels (Centennial) of Ellicott City, played in 18 games and batted .275, going 11-for-40 with 10 RBI.
Nickels also hit two homers.
Scott Timmerman (Mount St. Joe) of Ellicott City put together an outstanding sophomore season at the University of Michigan.
Timmerman, a second baseman, played 56 games and batted .321 with 63 hits in 196 at bats. He was second on the team in hits. He led the teams in stolen bases with 14. He was third in runs scored with 41 and hit six doubles, three triples and two homers.
Timmerman also led the team in total bases with 99 and was second in slugging percentage at .518.He had a .973 fielding percentage, committing only seven errors in 259 chances.
Another Michigan player, David Everly (Oakland Mills) of Columbia, played 46 games, and the former Dayton shortstop batted .228.
He slugged nine doubles, one triple and five home runs and drove in 22 runs. He also stole seven bases.
Everly, a senior, had a .905 fielding percentage with 19 errors in 200 chances.
Bill Dunn (Mount St. Joe) of Ellicott City had a pretty good freshman year for Arizona State University.
Dunn batted .275 in 43 games, getting 33 hits in 120 at bats. He scored 24 runs and had 14 RBI. The second baseman showed some power, with eight doubles and two homers. He stole six bases.
Alex Pugliese, The Howard County Sun's Player of the Year in 1990, posted a 2-3 pitching record for the College of Williamand Mary in his freshman season.
Pugliese came down with mononucleosis shortly before the start of spring practice and never completely recovered his strength.
"The quality of the baseball is much different," Pugliese said. "You can't get away with throwing a fastball down the middle."
The guy who coached many of these players for the Dayton Raiders, Steve Walker, is also back in the news.
Walker, who led the Raiders to a 178-50 record from 1986 through 1990, including five district championships, is the new assistant baseball coach at St. Mary's College in St. Mary's City.
Walker, the director of student supervision at Pallotti High School in Laurel, will do some recruiting for St. Mary's and coach on weekends.