In Their Own Words: A Conversation with LSU Commit and Draft Hopeful Riley Pint
We first saw LSU commit Riley Pint at last year’s Under Armour All-America Game as the National Team’s starting pitcher, firing 97 mph fastballs, so it’s no surprise that he’s used to delivering big-time performances in front of so many people.
He’s put together an outstanding senior season for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, KS as the buzz and attention surrounding Pint’s pitching continues to grow. He remains unfazed, hard at work to get ready for the next level, whether in college or the pros and the 6’4″, 220 pound right-hander has dominated the opposing teams he’s faced in the Eastern Kansas League. In 35 innings pitched, Pint’s allowed 16 hits, three earned runs, 19 walks while striking out 65 with a record of 5-1 and an ERA of 0.25 ERA for the 16-4 Saints.
So what has made this Draft hopeful so laser-focused on his pitching as he gears up for a big decision in a matter of weeks? We recently caught up with Pint to talk about his commitment to LSU and who he’s close to on the current team, his friendship with Joey Wentz and the lasting memories he’ll have with his high school teammates.
Baseball Factory: What are your thoughts on committing to LSU and being counted on to continue the strong lineage of outstanding pitchers?
Riley Pint: It’s been awesome. They’ve done so many great things there and it’s a cool thing to be committed to such a great school. I’m looking forward to getting down there and seeing what I can do to help the team.
BF: Have you been in contact with any of your future teammates at LSU?
RP: I’ve met most of the players from my official visit. Me and Alex Lange, we text back and forth quite often, just because we’re both from the same area. We’ve met each other more than a few times and have a pretty good relationship, I text him and ask him how things are going down there and asking me about how things are going up here, so it’s been cool.
BF: Tell us about your friendship with Joey Wentz and how you guys have helped each other during this exciting time in your lives?
RP: Our friendship is really good, we make each other laugh. It’s like a good ol’ joking relationship. It really helps to have someone who’s going through this with you, because we work out together a couple times a week. Last Fall and Winter, we saw each other every day. It’s cool because, any time if I’m worried or wondering about something, you can ask him things to see how he did it. It’s pretty cool that we’re both in this situation right now.
BF: How does it feel to know that both you and Joey could be two of the biggest high school baseball prospects to ever come out of Kansas City?
RP: I never really thought this was going to happen for the both of us. I knew Joey was a great player and I mean, I’m alright, I guess, but I didn’t know this until a couple months ago. I’m really excited for the both of us.
BF: Who have you been working with to get your game stronger and better?
RP: From the strength side, I’ve been working out with Joseph Potts, one of my strength guys I go to and he’s done tremendous things for me. I’ve put on about 15 pounds since last year and I feel like that’s really helped me throughout the season maintaining my velocity and going deeper in games. From the pitching side, I’ve been working with Bob Zimmermann, both Joey and I do, we just started it this year. I didn’t know what to expect, but its been great. We clicked right when we first met each other and has gone great since.
BF: You had an incredible start to your season, you hit a Grand Slam then touched 100 MPH in first start of the season…what was that experience like?
RP: It was alright, I think it might have been a wind-aided home run, but I’ll take it either way. It was a fun game because it was the first one of the season and we were all itchy to get out there. You couldn’t paint a better picture than that for the first game, an awesome experience.
BF: As the buzz on your game continues to grow, you’ve had to pitch in front of big crowds before, your team has been used to that. You’ve had scouts, other top baseball people come to your starts – how do you shut all of that out and focus on your pitching?
RP: I feel like I’ve done this before at the All-America Game last year pitching in front of big crowds. I just worry about throwing strikes and focusing on my catcher and don’t really worry about other stuff going on.
BF: You’re sitting mid-90s with your fastball… what are you doing to maintain velocity and to keep your arm healthy?
RP: We do a lot of deceleration work, where, I work out with Bob and Joey. Working on staying healthy and not doing too much forward movements. We do backward movements. I think we do a really good job, especially my head coach (Lorne Parks) keeping me under 100, 101 pitches. He’s always looking out for my best interests and he’s never going to push me over any pitch number that I don’t think I can go, so I feel that’s always helped me a lot because I know I can go out and do my thing and whatever happens after that, happens.
BF: What’s one area of your game are you focused on or working hard to get even better at for the next step in your journey?
RP: I’m looking at my secondary stuff. My curveball has been coming along pretty well. I just started throwing a traditional curve this year and I think that’s becoming a pretty good pitch for me. I think the development of my real curveball and changeup right now is what I’ve been working on this past year.
BF: Is there a pitcher in college or in the majors that you kind of pattern your game after or look at them and say, I like their mental makeup or their stuff?
RP: I haven’t patterned myself after anyone, I like watching Jose Fernandez pitch because he has electric stuff. Besides that, I just love baseball in general and watching pitchers go out there and compete.
BF: What’s the one thing you will miss the most about playing high school baseball?
RP: I think all of the friendships that I have on the team. They are all awesome guys and I think it’ll be kind of sad when we all go our separate ways and only see each other once in a while. Also, my head coach and assistant coaches, they’ve meant the world to me since my freshman year, so I’ll miss them as well.
BF: Did playing basketball helped him overall and the overall athleticism with sports?
RP: I played basketball up until last year. But I think that staying in shape and being agile on the mound is a huge factor when you’re pitching and basketball helped me out with that. It kind of made me a little tired going into the baseball season last year and and I was pretty skinny, so that was one of the factors for not playing so I could keep the weight on.
BF: What was your experience like with the Baseball Factory from the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last year?
RP: Awesome. Being in Chicago and seeing the whole floor of Under Armour stuff was just unreal, I’ve never seen anything like that before. To be at Wrigley Field was amazing and I couldn’t ask for much more to be out there with all of the great players I played with and against. Just a great experience overall.
BF: Your Dad, Neil, pitched at Kirkwood Community College and later at Iowa State – he’s helped to show you how to take care of your arm, get proper rest, throwing programs, preparing you for the experiences you’ll have as your career progresses, tell me about your relationship with your Dad being a true baseball guy.
RP: My relationship with my Dad… I wouldn’t even say its a Father/Son relationship, I feel like its a buddy/buddy relationship. He’s always outside playing sports with me. He’s always been there for me no matter what. Him being a pitching guy, my Dad gets it, when to take time off, he was feeling what I was feeling when he was pitching, so he knows the drill with taking time off. I’ve been very fortunate to have him help me through this entire process and I really don’t what I’d do without him.