When Riley Pint uncorked a 102-mile-per-hour pitch in February he may not have known the exact velocity, but he knew it felt good. Baseball scouts and coaches, meanwhile, knew they wanted to see more of the St. Thomas Aquinas High School senior on the mound.
Pint says pitching professionally would suit him just fine. "It's something I strive for, to be there [in the MLB] one day," Pint said during a phone interview on KCUR's Up To Date, "It's just a little earlier than I expected, I guess."
The rise is only a little unexpected — and his parents have been putting in work for years. In so doing, they're balancing the young man's pitching prospects with the danger of an injury to his arm, and they have real reason to fret. Tommy John surgery, which repairs ligaments in the elbow, is becoming more and more common in younger pitchers, according to Jeff Passan, a Yahoo! Sports columnist who has written a book on the topic.
Pint, who says he pitches just five or six months out of the year, tries to take the long-view when it comes to his prospective career.
"We also try to keep things under as less [sic] stress as possible," he says, "there's really no reason for any kids to just be throwing year-round."
Pint and his parents focus on keeping his pitch counts low, playing other sports and being conscientious.
"The need to achieve early is such an important thing in people's minds," Passan says, but the Pint's success so far has come through "really taking control of his career and of his arm."
With professional prospects, pitch counts, and dreams of a College World Series all swirling around his head, Pint tries to focus on the challenge that's in front of him now. "I'm really just focused on high school baseball right now and trying to get us back to a state championship," he says.
Luke X. Martin is a freelance contributor and assistant producer at KCUR 89.3. He can be reached at email@example.com.