For Neal Davis, tossing two scoreless innings yesterday at Camden Yards was like a test drive - a couple quick trips around the block that might help him make one of the biggest decisions of his life later this summer.
The Orioles drafted Davis in the 39th round earlier this month, and the Catonsville High left-hander will weigh that option against joining the University of Virginia in the fall. But with the dust hardly settled from the Orioles' game against the Washington Nationals yesterday afternoon, Davis took the major league mound for the North team in the 25th annual Brooks Robinson All-Star High School Game of Maryland.
He tossed a quick 1-2-3 first inning and stranded a runner after allowing a single in the second, but remains tight-lipped about where he thinks he'll be playing next season.
"I'm keeping my options open right now, seeing if the Orioles make me a good enough offer at the end of the summer," the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Davis said. "And if not, I get to go down to Virginia and play for a great conference and a great school."
This summer Davis is pitching for Youse's Maryland Orioles in the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League, under the coaching of Orioles scout Dean Albany.
There, he faces some talented hitters, but nothing comparable with climbing atop the big league rubber.
"Going out there after all the major leaguers, I was pretty pumped," Davis said.
The umpires called the All-Star game because of rain after Davis struck out Huntingtown's Ian Schwalenberg to end the second. The North was leading 3-0 thanks to a first-inning three-run home run from Robbie Mathias - a play the Liberty infielder called "a dream."
Surely the showcase, albeit brief, fulfilled the fantasies of several of the best seniors in the state, but for Davis it may be a case of foreshadowing.
"I couldn't imagine being in front of 30,000 people," Davis admitted on his way out of the Camden Yards concourse. "But, I've got to see if I perform well enough. Maybe I'll be here in a few years."