(Photos by James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
MIAMI -- Jack Eichel took his cuts at the plate Wednesday in Marlins Park prior to the Miami Marlins' game against the St. Louis Cardinals, and he seems to be cutting down the time to officially announce he's coming to the NHL.
"I think there's kind of a little update so I guess we'll find out sooner rather than later," Eichel said to a small group of reporters on the field.
Asked by The Buffalo News if he'd like to give his update here and now, Eichel laughed and said simply, "No."
When he returned from a clubhouse meeting with Marlins players, Eichel told The News he wasn't going to let his words run amok.
"We'll see," Eichel said. "All I know is that when I talked at the Cup final about school that people went and ran with that. I know people will jump on anything I say so we'll just leave it as 'no decision yet.' "
But it should be noted that Eichel emphasized the "yet" and signs continue to point to him officially saying he's turning pro at some point in the next couple of days.
As for Eichel's baseball prowess, well, it's a good thing he's a standout hockey player. Batting right-handed and wearing a No. 9 Marlins home white jersey, Eichel fouled off several pitches until finally starting to square up deliveries from Marlins assistant hitting coach Lenny Harris.
"I felt like I was on a golf course, popping too many up and getting under everything," Eichel said. "I've been golfing too much."
Lawson Crouse was the only one of the six prospects to hit a home run, blasting a ball deep to right. Eichel nearly drilled Crouse with a line drive as the prospects started to drift to the outfield near the end of their sessions.
Eichel was joined by Connor McDavid (below) as well as Crouse, Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Noah Hanifin. Eichel and McDavid are scheduled to throw ceremonial first pitches at about 6:50 this evening prior to the big-league game.