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Eagle with one powerful wing

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

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Oran junior pitcher Jayden Pobst has been overpowering opponents this season with a fastball that has been clocked at 93 mph. KIT DOYLE kdoyle@ semissourian.com
ORAN — Ask Oran catcher Caleb Seyer or Eagles coach Mitch Wood why Jayden Pobst is an effective pitcher, and they both answer with a number.

93.

"He throws hard, 93," Wood said. "That makes him effective."

Seyer follows suit.

"For one, it helps when you throw 93 mph," the senior catcher said. "You don't see too many people around here that throw that hard. He mixes in offspeed every now and again. He throws good."

Pobst, a junior, started the season as the Eagles' No. 3 pitcher. He's developed into one of the aces for the state-bound Eagles. Oran faces Stoutland in a Class 1 semifinal today at 10 a.m. in Springfield.

"He's just come a long way." Wood said. "At the beginning of the year, he really didn't have much control over his location. Throughout the year we've worked on it. Right now, he's just a pitch away from being a real good pitcher. If he can get another pitch to go with it, he can be really effective."

Pobst went 7-1 with an 0.87 ERA this season. He's struck out 61 in 32 1/3 innings, but he's also walked 21. Teams are batting .117 against him.

"Anybody who can throw 93 has a future doing it," Wood said. "There's no doubt about that, if he controls it right. If he comes out and pitches like he's capable, he can. If he comes out and pitches like his last game [against Cooter], he won't last very long. It's that simple. It's in his hands what he wants to do with it.

"He's got a ways to go to be a great pitcher. He's a good pitcher right now."

Pobst, 6 foot 1 and 204 pounds, said he didn't start hitting 90 mph until earlier this season. With constant work during the season, he's gotten his fastball up to 93 mph, and he loves watching batters try to catch up.

"There aren't very many," he said about those who make solid contact against him. "I'm not trying to brag, but not very many. It's a lot of luck, just putting the bat out there. It's swinging and hoping to make contact. There are some guys who have done that."

The biggest question mark for Pobst this season has been his control. He struggled against Cooter in the Class 1 sectional, allowing three walks and was pulled after allowing four runs in 3 2/3 innings.

"I've lost my control this year," Pobst said. "I've been throwing a lot of high ones. I'm throwing so hard, it's kind of hard to get it in there for a strike. I've got to get my control back."

Pobst tries to pattern his game after his baseball idol, Randy Johnson. Even though Pobst is a right-hander and Johnson is a lefty, Pobst likes the way Johnson approaches batters.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be just like him," Pobst said. "He just throws so fast, I want to be just like him. I want to pitch. I want to be out in the major leagues pitching."

Pobst throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. But he hinted that a new pitch might make its debut at the state tournament.

"I think I'm going to start throwing a splitter," he said. "I've got to get it under control. If I get it under control, I think it will be unhittable. I'm going to try to get it in there. I'm going to toss it in there."

Pobst credits his father with starting his baseball career. He said they would play out in the yard, and they haven't stopped. He never considered giving up baseball because he always has enjoyed playing.

"My dad loves the game," Pobst said. "Me and my dad play every day. My dad's my hero. I could play year round."

With his live arm and commitment to baseball, Pobst already is drawing the attention of professional scouts. He said he's had scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals talk to him, despite only being a junior.

"It's big, but at the same time, when they're there, I've got to pitch," he said. "But it's big. It gives you chills."

Pobst rarely knows for certain if he'll start a game. Wood prefers to wait until the day of the game to let his pitchers know who will start. But with the way Pobst has pitched this season, he can expect a visit from Wood when they arrive at the park today.

"As soon as we get here, he'll be like 'Pobst, you're on the mound,'" Pobst said. "That's when you get pumped up right there."


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