RIPLEY – The young Viking shortstop appears right on time for the photo shoot after school. The photographer asked the slugger, “Which bat is yours?” The 16-year old infielder responded quickly with, “This is my baby, right here.”
The sophomore grabbed the grungiest bat from a pile of two-dozen. His tool of the trade is scuffed and dinged from many hours of batting practice and frozen ropes laced into the gaps of the outfield, resulting in stand-up doubles.
The bat is soaked in pine tar and exudes the sweat of its owner, longing to provide just one more hit before being forgotten and tossed into a closet or garage somewhere in favor of a shiny new model. No need to worry, Christopher Jordan is unapologetically old school in his approach to the game. Think Pete Rose as a teenager. Think West Virginia native John Kruk in a Phillies uniform.
It all means just one thing; Jordan is a throwback to the yester-years of baseball glory. “The kid absolutely lives, breathes and bleeds baseball,” said Ripley High Head Coach Shane Casto. “He is carrying on a tradition of great infielders at Ripley High School.”
Jordan keeps it simple at the plate with a see the ball, hit the ball approach. “I just try to utilize pitch recognition as soon as possible and put the bat on the ball and try to drive it into a gap somewhere where I can run. I will never be a power hitter and I realize that. I just want on base any way I can get there,” said Jordan.
No. 13 entered the high school ranks last season as a freshman and made the Mountain State Athletic Conference squad after hitting .341 with 18 walks, 30 runs scored, 11 doubles, three triples while leading the team with (27) stolen bags.
“He does so many things well instinctively. He is easy to coach because he seeks knowledge and wants to get better. Christopher is a student of the game in every sense of that phrase,” said Casto.
This season, after three games, Jordan is up to his old tricks while hitting .462 with three doubles, six RBIs and five stolen bases. Jordan was named a Perfect Game Honorable Mention All American. He was one of only 10 players from West Virginia chosen. Jordan spends his summer playing for the Huntington Hounds where he uses a wooden bat for the 16U squad.
Last season he hit .440 with 22 singles, 11 doubles, two triples, two homers and 27 runs scored. He swiped 24 bases on quality pitchers/catchers. “I like the challenge of playing for the Hounds”, Jordan said. You don’t see a 90 mph fastball very often in high school ball. I see it almost daily in the summer.”
Hounds 18U Coach Caleb Stewart sees a bright baseball future for No. 13. “Christopher has a good feel for his swing and has a chance to hit for power and average long term at the next level. He is a hard nosed kid who throws and runs well.”
Jordan has a reputation for playing hard, even in his Little League years. “I learned from my Dad, my Grandfather and Brother what hard work is all about. They taught me that playing and working hard will get you to the next level, where you want to be.”
The 5-foot-9 160 pound slugger also sees time on the pitching mound where he serves as the Viking closer. “Pitching is fun but I prefer hitting. I will do whatever it takes to help the team. Wherever I am needed,” he said.
Jordan spends time with his friends and it isn’t always about baseball. His Father (Chris) shares the baseball fever that runs through their veins. “I thank God every day that Christopher is my son and that we can share the passion for baseball, hunting and fishing together,” said Chris (Father).
Christopher feels that as he gets older, he relates more to his Father and they have become closer. “My Dad and I are closer now than ever and we just enjoy being around each other. We talk a lot about things in our life and the things we share in common,” said Christopher. With a bright baseball future ahead, what are the goals of the young slugger with the quick bat? “I am prepared to play in college and just continue to work my hardest and see what happens.“
Collegiate baseball programs have contacted coach Casto to “kick the tires” of the sophomore slugger including; Penn State, Ohio State and Marshall University, among many others. Jordan has been invited to the East Coast Pro Showcase, which is by MLB scout invitation only.
He has attended five MLB showcases and has ran a 6.78 second 60-yard dash, registered an infield arm strength of 82 MPH and a bat speed of 92 MPH.
“I really think that the sky is the limit for Christopher. If he continues to work the way he does and develop, there will be lots of baseball people sniffing around the ballpark,” said Ripley Pitching Coach Frankie Cummings.
Chicago Cubs Senior Scout Tim Adkins thinks highly of C.J.’s hitting potential.
“I think that Christopher’s best tool is his bat and approach. Not many kids within our state have an advanced approach like Christopher does at the plate. As far as college I think there isn’t a doubt that he is going to play college baseball but at what level I don’t think it’s fair to the kid for me to offer an opinion. Time and effort will tell us that later in his prep career.”
For now, Jordan and his pine tar soaked bat will keep on doing what they do well together - churn out the hits.