The pitcher with a huge arm prides himself more on his humble attitude.
In case you missed it, Auburn Mountainview’s Nate Weeldreyer flashed his big-league stuff in style recently with a 19-strikeout, no-hit shutout against rival Auburn Riverside. Only a lone hit batter in the fourth inning prevented a perfect seven-inning game.
Coach Glen Walker called it “one of the most well-pitched games I have ever seen” — probably second to only a couple thrown by Tim Lincecum (a two-time Cy Young Award winner as a San Francisco Giant) when Walker coached him at Liberty High School.
But you wouldn’t hear Weeldreyer bragging about it the next day at school.
“He’s super-humble,” catcher Will Cresswell said. “He’s not the type of guy who talks about himself.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Weeldreyer, who throws in the 90s with a good command of the curveball and slider, plays with confidence, not cockiness.
“That’s a difference between me and a lot of guys,” the senior right-hander said. “I know that I’m a good player, but I’m not going to brag about my success or anything about that.”
That confidence skyrocketed the summer after his sophomore year. He already had a Division I scholarship in hand, committing to Seattle U as a freshman — although he is now signed with Purdue, following former SU coach Elliott Cribby there after Cribby was hired as the Boilermakers’ pitching coach last year.
Weeldreyer had just pitched what he thought of as a typical game when Cribby gave him a different assessment.
“He said, ‘That was a great outing that you had. Do you understand how good that was?’ ” Weeldreyer recalled. “I told him, ‘Hey, it was just another game. I had fun and went out there and did good.’ He said, ‘That’s big-league stuff right there, man. You’ve got the body, you’ve got the tools, you work hard, you’re committed — you have everything that is needed to be a big-league player.’ ”
Weeldreyer went home and shared the conversation with his parents.
“They said, ‘If you have a dream to play professional baseball someday, you need to be in the weight room every day, you need to work hard in the classroom and you need to be the most respectful kid, polite, and just be helpful, help anyone who needs help. Do what you can do to be a great person every day,’ ” he said. “From that point on, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve worked really hard and I feel as a person I’ve done a lot to help people when they need it, I’m respectful and I feel proud about it.”
Weeldreyer, who carries a 3.7 grade-point average and also played tennis for Auburn Mountainview in the fall, has impressed Walker with his work ethic and ability to handle pressure — the kind that comes with having 20 professional scouts pointing radar guns at him from behind the plate.
“He set goals early on and has worked the entire offseason to get the results he wants,” the coach said. “He is a talent and has a lot of God-given ability, but he has worked hard to better himself. He has handled the attention from pro scouts very well.”
Weeldreyer can also play third or first base, but generally is the Lions’ designated hitter when not pitching. He is hitting .350 with five RBI and four extra-base hits through nine games. On the mound, he’s 2-1 with a 1.17 earned-run average and 31 strikeouts against six walks.
While he said he plans to keep his options as far as baseball’s amateur draft is concerned, his intention is to attend Purdue and study sociology, business or sports management with hopes of eventually becoming a college coach or professional scout — after finishing a playing career he hopes reaches that big-league potential.