High School Sports

York lefty Fuesser drawing attention from MLB scouts

Zac Fuesser, a left-handed pitcher on the York Comprehensive High School baseball team, throws a 92 mph fastball.
Zac Fuesser, a left-handed pitcher on the York Comprehensive High School baseball team, throws a 92 mph fastball.

YORK -- Zac Fuesser is an "Aw shucks'' type of guy, but he's by no means a hayseed.

It's that Fuesser takes life as it comes, always calm and never letting pressure overtake the task at hand.

That, and a couple of other important factors, have shot York Comprehensive's Fuesser into the elite among high school pitchers across the nation. It's been his dream since youth ball to play in the big leagues -- perhaps go to college and catch the attention of Major League Baseball scouts.

Fuesser might get to live out that dream sooner than he'd hoped.

He's on most charts listing the top prep players in the nation. When he pitches, it's not unusual for 30 or more scouts to be packed in behind the backstop, radar guns and notepads in hand.

"I never expected all of this attention, but it's been exciting,'' Fuesser said. "I've been told that I could be drafted in the early rounds and I'm constantly talking about it with my parents.

"No matter how a conversation starts at home, it always ends with us talking baseball and what I should do. I've signed a scholarship with Walter State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee.''

People have told Fuesser that if he does get drafted, he should take the money and run. That's not his approach.

What he ends up doing depends on how everything plays out on draft day.

"I've been told I could go as early as the fourth round,'' Fuesser said. "That would probably be high enough to accept an offer.

"But it depends on the offer, whether or not I'll take the money and run. No matter where I get drafted, if I get picked, if we don't like the offer, I still have college.''

The odds of getting his name called by an MLB team are high. Fuesser has the physical attributes teams look for in a player -- 6-foot-1, 180 pounds and a left-hander.

Going into Tuesday's game at Lancaster, Fuesser was 3-0, including a no-hitter, with one save. His ERA is 0.58 and he has 24 strikeouts. He plays first base when not pitching and is hitting .482 with one home run.

The Rawlings/Perfect Game High School Senior Preseason All-America team has Fuesser listed on its third team. The only other South Carolina player on the list, also a third-teamer, is South Carolina signee Adam Westmoreland, a pitcher at Brookland-Cayce.

Fuesser said although it's nice to see his name listed and that he is only one of two South Carolina players selected, he still has to clear several hurdles. The scouting process, he said, is broken into three periods.

"He has really improved over last season and has done an outstanding job for us,'' York coach Scot Kiggans said. "We are extremely proud of him and for what the future holds. He's brought great exposure to the school, our baseball team and the community.

"He has the good fastball, but he does a good job changing speeds. Has a nice curve, nice slider and a good change-up.''

Scouts look at players in the preseason, early in the season and near the end of the season to see how they are holding up and if they are throwing with the same velocity.

Two major league scouts were reached Tuesday, but said their organizations have a policy that prohibits them from talking about specific players. One said Fuesser definitely has some things going for him.

Fuesser believes his velocity won't fall off. His fastball was timed at 86 mph last season, but he ran and weightlifted to build strength. During a summer league game with Columbia's Palmetto Sand Gnats, Fuesser's velocity changed quick as a wink.

The Gnats were playing in a tournament in Orlando, Fla., against the Chet Lemon Juice. The team was owned and coached by the former major leaguer, who played for the Chicago White Sox and Detroit from 1975-90.

Fuesser was called on to get the final two outs with the Gnats leading 5-4. He struck out the two batters he faced on seven pitches -- six fastballs for strikes and a curve for a ball.

"I could feel my adrenaline pumping,'' Fuesser said. "I told my catcher that it felt like I was throwing harder than I'd ever thrown. We have a radar gun, and when one of our pitchers is not playing he sits behind the backstop and times our pitches.

"After the game, he asked if I realized I was throwing my fastball 92 miles an hour. Since then, I've been throwing it 91 or 92 almost every time.''

If Fuesser is drafted in the later rounds on June 6 and heads off to Tennessee for college, he'll look at his options at the end of each season. Fuesser said he had contact with The Citadel and Winthrop, but has to go to junior college and get his grades better.

Fuesser will see what his options are and might end up pitching at a Division I school during his final two years.

"But who knows?'' Fuesser said. "If you sign a pro contract, the team will still pay for you to go to college in the offseason. I do want to get a college education.''

Most scouts chart Fuesser and stay away from talking directly to him. Instead, they talk to his coaches and his dad, Mike. The only scout to talk with Fuesser so far was from Atlanta.

His dad has taken the other calls so Fuesser can concentrate on baseball and schoolwork.

The Braves are a favorite for most high school players in the South, but Fuesser is a St. Louis fan.

"But I just want to make it to the big leagues some day,'' he said. "It really doesn't matter what team it is as long as there's one out there willing to give me a shot.''