St. Al’s Gaul headed to Texas athletic academy to advance baseball career

Published 11:00 am Friday, August 4, 2023

Like a lot of high school athletes, Conner Gaul got frustrated as the college recruiting process played out.

He attended a number of prospect camps but was swallowed up in a sea of faces. The few nibbles of interest he got evaporated when coaches gave the roster spot to experienced players from the transfer portal.

“There’s been times where I’m like, ‘I’m done,’ because you’re not going to keep telling me the same story,” said Gaul, a standout baseball player at St. Aloysius who graduated in May. “I felt like there was going to be no end to it until this guy came around.”

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That guy is Davis Page, who runs the DFW Post Grad Baseball program in Grapevine, Texas. It’s a specialized sports training academy designed to give players like Gaul a place to hone their skills and improve their chances of latching on with a college team.

The academy operates like a college program, with players doing drills, strength training and on-field practice for eight hours a day, six days a week. It has two teams that play a fall and spring season against college teams in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

“It’s a sports academy, essentially. They recruit just like the colleges do. A lot of the combines and prospect camps Conner has been to, this coach has been there,” said Sara Gaul, Conner’s mother. “It’s essentially a recruiting tool because the (transfer) portal has killed recruiting for high school seniors. Conner was beat out by two 24-year-olds. They take them and prep them and get them recruited.”

Conner Gaul, a catcher for St. Al, had a good high school career but was slipping through the cracks — which made him exactly the kind of player DFW Post Grad targets for its one-year program.

The traditional route is for high school players to be recruited directly by coaches from a junior college or four-year school. Paying to attend what amounts to baseball school, with no guarantees beyond that, carried plenty of risks. When Conner first met Page at a prospect camp in March, he admitted he was skeptical.

“When he first talked to me in March I said this is weird,” Conner Gaul said. “We were in the middle of our season so I let it sizzle down so I could go play baseball. At the end, when he was saying, ‘I’m still following you,’ I started doing some research on it.”

Later in the spring, Gaul was heading to Dallas for a showcase event. Grapevine, where DFW Post Grad’s facility is located, is a suburb of Dallas, so Gaul and Page met up there.

It didn’t take long for Gaul to buy in to what DFW Post Grad had to offer.

“The main thing for me was, we got out there a couple weeks ago and I started listening to what he was saying. I’ve been to six or seven prospect camps the last few weeks, and with the amount of kids that are there you get no exposure,” Conner said. “Here, you’re playing other 18-year-old teams. You’re playing other schools. Coaches can call you. I looked at it as this is another year to grow as a player. You have no time to sit on your butt.”

The grueling schedule, he added, appealed to him. The intense nine-month program begins in August and carries through the spring. There is a scout day in January, along with a 20-game schedule in the fall and a 50-game schedule in the spring.

The program has a 13,000-square foot indoor facility, an additional fitness facility, and offers housing for players.
Gaul will also take online classes through Holmes Community College while he’s attending DFW Post grad.

“That’s got my attention. In high school you practice three days a week. For somebody that loves the sport, that’s not enough,” Conner said. “This is six days a week. I was drooling at the mouth for it. It’s a juco team, essentially.”

Nearly two-thirds of DFW Post Grad’s players have signed with college teams after their time in the program. Gaul said he’s already had some feelers from college coaches, and is hoping that spending a year focusing on baseball will turn them into firm offers. He’s taking a different path to get there, but is excited for the opportunity.

“It’s really getting there. It’s starting to shape up a little bit that I’m going to be five hours away from home and nobody is going to be at my games. At St. Al we always had all sorts of family there,” he said. “It’s my turn to go out there and do it on my own.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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