It all started with a plastic megaphone and a kid who was barely big enough to hold it.
Blaze Jordan was so young at the time that his age was still measured in months—about 18 of them as his parents remember it. The megaphone was a gift from his grandparents, who had gotten it at a minor league hockey game. They figured young Blaze would use it the way any other kid would: make noise and drive his parents nuts. "They thought it was funny," his mom, Jennifer Jordan, remembers.
But when this 18-month-old saw the megaphone, he didn't see a noisemaker.
"He looked at it, went and got a plastic bat and a ball, set it down and used it as a tee," Jennifer says. "I'm like, 'We've got a ballplayer on our hands.'"
Sadly, there are no YouTube videos of 18-month-old Blaze hitting home runs with his plastic bat, no records of how far those first blasts traveled. Those didn't start showing up until he was a little bit older. Like the one from when he was 11, hitting a 395-foot home run in a showcase at the Texas Rangers' home ballpark.
Or the ones from when he was 13 and hitting balls 500 feet.
If you search hard enough on the internet, you can also find photos of Jordan, now 15, working out this past winter with Albert Pujols. And plenty of other videos of tape-measure homers.
Don't look for him on any previews of the June draft. He's only a ninth-grader at DeSoto Central High in Southaven, Mississippi. But college coaches have known about him for a while; Jordan has already committed to Mississippi State.
Major league teams know him already, too.
"To me, he's like a young Bob Horner," one Mississippi-based scout says. "I'd heard about him, so when I got to see him in a tournament in Atlanta, I really paid attention. First game, he faced a really good pitcher. Boom. Home run.
"He has a God-given ability to hit home runs."
And a name his dad gave him because he thought it would fit a football player.
Bryce Harper was 16 years old when he landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the "Chosen One." In the story, Tom Verducci wrote about the long home runs Harper had already hit by then, including a 502-foot blast a few months before at the Power Showcase at Tropicana Field.
Jordan was invited to the same showcase when he was 11, and he has been back every year since. He won't turn 16 until December, but he has already broken Harper's record.
"As a 13-year-old, he hit two 500-foot home runs," says Brian Domenico, who founded and still runs the Showcase. "As a 14-year-old, he competed with all the top high school players. He hit 23 home runs, including one that went 504 feet. As a 15-year-old, he competed with the top college players and missed making the finals by one home run.
The ultimate prize at the Showcase is the Colossus of Clout, in honor of Babe Ruth. It is presented to the player who hits the longest home run, and he is photographed with Ruth's granddaughter and an actual Ruth bat. Harper won it once with a 502-foot homer. Jordan has won it in his age group each of the last four years.
Domenico says the best comparison for the electricity in Jordan's right-handed swing is that it's like what Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. had from the left side. He compares the focus and energy to what he saw from Harper and Kris Bryant, another Power Showcase alum.
But Jordan isn't Harper. For one thing, he doesn't run like Bryce. He doesn't talk like him, either.
This is Bryce, age 16, in that Sports Illustrated story, talking about his goals: "Be in the Hall of Fame, definitely. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can't wait."
This is Blaze, age 15: "I try to stay humble."
It can't be easy—not when you're all over Vimeo and YouTube hitting 500-foot home runs; not when your high school coach tells you he wants you on the varsity in eighth grade; not when your summer coach says you're ready to compete with the best high school prospects in the nation (and then you prove him right).
It can't be easy—not when you go to a showcase in Dallas and 100 other players grab their phones and start the video running every time you come to the plate.
It can't be easy—not when you go to Los Angeles and your coach has arranged for you to work out with Pujols, who tells you: "Just keep your swing simple. I don't see anything you need to change."
"He was one of the nicest guys," Jordan says.
Jordan also admires Miguel Cabrera. As for Harper, he simply says: "Hopefully, I'll get to where he is."
The comparisons are natural, but they don't mean much at Jordan's age. His body is still developing. He's not the overall athlete Harper is, but through hard work and an improved diet, he has already improved his mobility.
"When he was younger, people told us he needs to get more speed, get more agile," Jennifer says. "We're like, 'Let him grow a little.' We knew when he hit puberty he would get taller and lose some baby fat."
He has indeed grown. After his most recent Perfect Game event, the organization listed him at 6'1", 215 pounds.
Remember, he's just turned 15.
"He's in so much better shape than he was last year," DeSoto Central coach Mark Monaghan says.
A year ago, Jordan ran the 60-yard dash in 8.3 seconds. Now he can cover the distance in seven seconds flat.
Monaghan is comfortable playing Jordan at either first or third base, and he also uses him as a closer (with a 90-91 mph fastball). And, of course, Jordan bats third for a team with ambitions of winning Mississippi's 6A state title.
Remember, he's a ninth-grader.
"I look back on it, he should have played more than he did as an eighth-grader," Monaghan says.
As it was, Jordan got 29 varsity at-bats and hit .517 with two home runs, one of them a pinch-hit homer to win a game.
Tim Dulin is a former minor league infielder who runs youth league teams in Memphis and Dallas. Nine of his players have gone on to the major leagues, including Mookie Betts, Matt Cain and Zack Cozart.
Dulin started working with Jordan when Blaze was just four years old.
"When did I know he was special?" Dulin asks. "About 30 minutes after I started working with him."
Jordan spends his summers playing for Dulin's Dodgers in tournaments and showcases around the country. He was in Atlanta for five straight weeks last summer, playing in a tournament for 14-year-olds but also those set up for 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds.
"And he was all-tournament at each level," Dulin says.
Dulin tells of a home run hit against the wind off a kid throwing 91-94 mph.
"The scouts were in awe," Dulin says. "He reminds me of Bryce Harper. His bat speed is above major league average right now. And he hasn't even started lifting weights. He's just a prodigy.
He reminds me of Bryce Harper. His bat speed is above major league average right now. And he hasn't even started lifting weights. He's just a prodigy. — Youth team coach Tim Dulin
"I've had kids with raw power and kids with great wrists. This kid has raw power and the wrists. And he's just a really good kid."
You hear that kind of thing a lot when you talk to people about Blaze Jordan. You hear about the home runs, but you also hear that he's a good kid, a humble kid who hasn't been changed by his success or the attention he's attracted at such a young age.
"He comes in with a smile every day," says Peyton Mills, DeSoto Central's third baseman and team captain. "He's just a great guy."
The words of praise for Blaze's character mean a lot to Chris and Jennifer, who met as ninth-graders and went on to get married and have two boys who would play baseball.
Chris was more of a football player himself, a fullback talented enough that he was offered a scholarship to play at the University of Memphis and later played two years of semipro football.
"I loved football so much," he says.
He and Jennifer settled in their hometown of Southaven and opened Wholesale Nutrition, a store that advertises "the largest selection of brands and products in the Memphis area."
They named their first son Parker. He turned out to be a pretty solid baseball player and now plays at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. Five years later, they had another boy and named him Blaze.
"I said, 'That's an awesome football name,'" Chris says.
"Now it's a good baseball name."
Blaze did play football, but he took a hard hit while playing quarterback at age seven, suffered a concussion and decided to stick to baseball. Chris and Jennifer Jordan fully supported his decision.
They didn't try to push him into football—or into baseball, for that matter. They've tried to protect him—coaches are told not to let him throw more than 25-30 pitches a week—but they haven't tried to run his life for him.
"If anything, he pushes us," Chris says. "It's almost like he's addicted to hitting. When he doesn't hit, he gets real moody. Then he gets to hit and he's fine."
Jordan is always ready to hit. Always has been, since that day he took the plastic megaphone and used it as a tee.
He went through the normal progression of playing T-ball and then coach-pitch baseball, and then on to player-pitch leagues.
The difference was that right from the start he hit the ball a lot farther than the other kids. Even when he was pushed into higher age groups, he was still hitting the ball farther than everyone else.
And even at a young age, people were watching him.
"We keep in touch with some of the other families of the kids he played with," Jennifer says. "They'll say, 'We knew when he was five years old he was going to be special.' One woman said her husband told her when he was three: 'You'll remember that kid.'"
It looks that way now. Blaze Jordan has three more high school seasons to play after this one. No team is planning its 2021 draft board yet.
"Everyone dreams," Jennifer says. "But I don't let myself get too far ahead. I don't want to get too far ahead of what God has planned. We've told [Blaze]: 'Don't try to grow up too fast. Enjoy every season.'"
So far, he has.
"I'm just like a normal kid, friends with everyone," Blaze says.
A normal 15-year-old kid…who can hit a baseball 500 feet.
Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.
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