FOX LAKE – Like most of us, Grant High School graduate Simeon Lucas has summer plans. He is headed for warmer weather in Arizona next week.
OK, slight exaggeration. He's not like most of us. When he arrives in Arizona, he's bringing his catching gear. The former Grant backstop is attending rookie camp for the Cleveland Indians. He was drafted in the seventh round of the MLB draft and he gladly accepted the Indians' offer.
Yes, Lucas can scream from the top of buildings in Fox Lake. This is huge news for Grant High School and the athletic program. They truly have a Major League baseball prospect.
"I'm still kind of slap happy,'' Lucas said.
Grant baseball coach Dave Behm also is in a bit of a daze.
"It's hard to believe,'' Behm said. "You never get an opportunity like this. This is very exciting. We knew there was a lot of interest in him."
Behm noted Lucas worked behind the scenes to get better at his favorite sport.
"Last summer, he went to a lot of showcases,'' Behm said. "He went to stuff in Florida. I think the Indians came to 16 of our games."
Well to be honest here, MLB teams are not in the practice of handing out cash to folks at random. Evidently, the Grant catcher is a special player.
It starts with his size. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Lucas is clearly a Division I player. Yet, this isn't a player who has been playing catcher his whole life.
"I've only been catching for 2 1/2 years,'' Lucas said. "I think they could see a lot of potential from that. And I think my bat speaks for itself."
That bat helped the Bulldogs of Grant win a third-place finish when he was a sophomore. In his three years in a Bulldogs uniform, his team has racked up close to 70 wins with Lucas behind the plate. His three-year totals sound like he's ready for professional baseball. He hit .429 in those seasons and rang up 38 doubles and 18 homers. In his final season at Grant, Lucas had 9 homers and drove in 36 runs.
"He hit around .400,'' Behm said. "And he was great behind the plate."
So when did this slugger begin his trek in the baseball world anyway?
"Ever since I could walk,'' Lucas said. "Baseball is in my family. Both my dad and my brother played it."
And when did Lucas start to show that he could be a special player?
"Possibly when I was 14 or 15,'' Lucas said. "When I was 17, I was playing for the Lake County Sidewinders. And that's when I thought I could be a pro player."
The switch to catcher is key for Lucas. In addition, he's now a left-handed hitting catcher. Still, moving to catcher when a player is 15-years-old is a bit unusual.
"I loved hitting so I didn't want to give that up,'' Lucas said. "And I felt right at home with catching."
This catcher also has a pretty good idea of what professional baseball is all about.
"I assume everyone usually puts in three years and evaluates from there,'' Lucas said. "I absolutely can't wait for it."