With the Major League Baseball season in full swing, high school and college baseball entering their home stretch, and the MLB Draft just a month away, fans and athletes alike will start to shift their focus to the future of our game. High School seniors and draft-eligible college players will be watching to see if, and where, their name is called.
Redondo (California) Union High School two-way star Sean Reynolds is one of the hopefuls who will be closely watching for his name to be called.
Reynolds, a 6’8″ right-handed pitcher and first baseman/outfielder, says the love of the game started from a young age.
“My older brother was always playing ever since I can remember,” Reynolds said. “From a young age, I would always go to the ballpark with my dad and my brother. I’ve always been around it and I’ve loved it since I discovered it.”
One of Reynolds’ favorite baseball memories is a trip to Fenway Park.
In his senior year, Reynolds has a 7-0 record for the Redondo Union Sea Hawks with a 1.23 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. He has seen a rise in velocity on his fastball over the last year, currently sitting at 88-92. He also sports a curveball, slider, and changeup.
“Over the past year my velocity has jumped about 6-8 mph so that’s been a major improvement,” Sean mentioned. “I think I’m a power pitcher who can also spot. My fastball does have a little bit of late movement which is obviously key to not getting blasted. I can hit a spot when I need to and let my natural movement do its thing.”
“Using all of my pitches to 100-percent effectiveness is something I’m still working on. I think that they’re all good, but me being able to use all four of them and be effective with them is something that I’m still working towards.”
When asked which pitcher his style is the most similar to, Reynolds spoke about the mental edge of one of today’s top hurlers.
“Max Scherzer. Just the way he carries himself. He goes out to the mound every game and knows that every time he starts, he’s the best pitcher on the planet,” Reynolds said. “You can see it in the way he works. You can see it even if he gives up a few runs in a game, he still doesn’t lose that edge. That’s something that I try to keep when I’m on the mound.”
When he isn’t pitching, he has also played well both at the plate and in the outfield. He has hit .380/.473/.759 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs. The development he’s realized this season, he says, is due in large part to the work he did in the offseason.
“I worked out really hard in the offseason and right now it’s paying off, but it’s also the fact that it’s been another year of growing and getting my body in shape.”
Reynolds has also made a transition from playing first base to playing in the outfield, which is something he feels he can be successful at with more development and practice at the position.
“The transition to more of a full-time outfield role this year is something I think I can be really successful at, but with that comes the learning curve. Taking better routes and tracking fly balls is something I could do better.”
In October, Reynolds pulled the trigger and signed his letter of intent to play for Wayne Graham and the Rice University Owls, a decision made a little easier by the fact that Graham would like to see Reynolds play both ways, not only as a pitcher, but also as a hitter.
“It was a big part of me deciding where I was going to be playing in college,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t want to be stuck in a pitcher-only role yet so being able to have an opportunity to swing the bat was something that held a lot of weight with me and Rice gives me a good opportunity to do that.”
Still, when it comes to deciding his future after the MLB Draft next month, the biggest factor isn’t money or draft position, but in which opportunity sets him up to be more successful in the long run.
“I’m excited for the process and to see what happens,” answered Reynolds. “For me, it’s going to be whichever opportunity gives me the best chance to get through the minor leagues. The ultimate goal is to get to the majors, and now that it’s a little more tangible, whoever gives me the greatest opportunity will be the deciding factor.”
“I would like to swing the bat, but all the same if I were to be taken by an organization that likes me more as a pitcher we can go from there. I like hitting and pitching both equally; I’m just riding the wave right now and seeing what happens.”
Still, the most important thing for Sean, with his season still going and the playoffs on the horizon for his 25-1 Sea Hawks team, is having fun and competing to the best of his ability.
“I’m a fun-loving kid. Baseball is supposed to be fun, and I probably have the most fun playing the game. I keep it loose and bringing the energy,” Reynolds said. “I also compete. I consider myself to be the fiercest competitor out there. It doesn’t matter who I’m facing, what the score is, what the count is, whether I’m pitching or hitting — I’m going to compete 110 percent. I’m not going to give in.”