In the hours after a practice or a game has concluded, don't be surprised to see Shempert back at the Houston High School field working on his swing.
Hilltoppers coach Scott Gann locks up the facility following every workout and game, but he knows that won't stop Shempert and his teammates from hopping the fence to work on improving their batting mechanics.
"He never told me not to come," said Shempert, a 16-year-old high school junior.
While Shempert is not exactly Mississippi's version of Bryce Harper - a travel ball product who became a Las Vegas high school catching, pitching and hitting phenom before getting drafted by the Washington Nationals a year ahead of his originally anticipated graduation date - there are some similarities between the two.
Like Harper, Shempert has played plenty of travel ball, traveling throughout the South, playing in all kinds of tournaments. Like Harper, plenty of college coaches would love to have Shempert on their team.
"He was a 15-year-old kid getting calls from coaches you see at the College World Series in June," Gann said of Shempert, who committed to Mississippi State as a sophomore last season. "He sees what (Mississippi State) coach (John) Cohen is doing and he (Shempert) likes his attitude and the way he approaches the game.
"He's been around a lot of SEC schools. ... He's going to showcases and actual camps he's been invited to. He's been able to travel around the region."
And just like Harper - who often would work on his swing even after he just arrived home from a faraway tournament - it's a tremendous work ethic that has made Shempert an exceptional ballplayer.
"His work ethic is really a big part of it," Gann said about his now junior standout, who spends countless hours taking close-range batting practice from his father, Scott Shempert, in addition to hitting off the arm of North Delta School coach Duke McCrory. "He just loves to go hit. ... Whatever he needs to do to get better."
Said Shempert, "Just getting a scholarship doesn't change anything. I'll still play hard. You never know who is out there watching you."
Gann certainly understands that a lot of what makes an athlete excel at a sport is "God-given ability." He knows that many players work hard, but very few get the opportunity to start every high school varsity game for a large school as a freshman catcher.
Shempert - who, at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, is by no means big - is indeed a rare talent who can play a number of positions.
"That's not a position a freshman comes in and plays at the varsity level and succeeds at," Gann said. "He knows a lot about the game that you can't coach - how to set up hitters as a catcher and what pitches to throw.
"He's got that 'it factor.' There's no other good word or phrase to describe it. He just has that 'it factor.'"
Shempert batted .467 as a freshman, .364 as a sophomore in 2010. He was intentionally walked 32 times last season.
"He's just got that swagger about him that he can hit anything, really," said Tupelo Christian Prep pitcher Drew Carter, who played for Houston's Division 4-4A rival, Amory, last season. "That lefty swing is just smooth."
Shempert, who is starting to hit from both sides of the plate this season, is also good enough to foul off pitches, while deep in the count, until the pitcher runs out of gas and gives him an offering that he can tattoo, said Gann, recalling a division game last season in which Shempert was down 0-2 and ended up seeing nine or 10 pitches in the at-bat before finally smashing a double.
"I guess a lot of guys probably want to challenge him right now," Gann added.
Shempert could be in for another big spring, as he homered four times in three preseason intrasquad scrimmages. This past fall, Shempert was 4 for 5 with a home run from the right side.
With his numbers proving that he can produce on a consistent basis, Shempert isn't afraid to sacrifice a strike when he's at the dish to allow for a base runner to steal successfully.
"He does a lot of things at the plate that are almost unnatural for a kid his age," Gann said. "For example, the other day in one of our scrimmages, there was a pitch off the plate and away from him that he dead-armed flailed at it, just to try to hold the catcher back. He felt like holding the catcher back would give the runner another split second to be there."
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572