By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you can throw a baseball hard and can throw strikes, you can pitch at the high school level. If you can throw a baseball real hard, throw strikes and mix in a changeup, you can get drafted to play professional baseball.

Burnsville’s Sam Carlson has that make up. He already has a college scholarship, but if he decides to go pro he’ll go high in the upcoming draft.

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All eyes are on Carlson when he gets to the ball park from the time he starts his pregame routine. The reason is simple: He’s an impressive pitcher who’s spent years maturing into the right motions and the right mechanics.

(credit: CBS)

“He’s blessed with a lot of talent, and what he does with that blessing is his gift back,” coach Mick Scholl said. “He had to push himself. He was only throwing 83, 82 — which is outstanding, back in 9th grade — and now he’s up to that 94 to 97.”

It’s happened because of the way he has prepared — with dilligence and tenacity.

“Usually I work hard in the weight room, fine tune your mechanics — it’s all about intent,” Carlson said. “You just got to want it, you’ve got to go do it.”

So the professional scouts come out, and he could be their team’s pick. It’s made for a busy spring for his coach.

“It is like a second job,” Scholl said. “Even today, with all the rain, I’m getting quite a few of the National League teams who want to see, having me send not only his pitching stats, but also his hitting stats.”

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He’s 6 feet 4 inches tall, 205 pounds, and loves to compete.

“I think the most fun paying off is seeing silly swings on good off-speed pitches,” Carlson said. “But the end result of winning games is the best part about pitching.”

He understands the attention, and he’s not getting caught up in it.

(credit: CBS)

“I’m not too nervous, I’m just going to let it all play out. When the draft comes around, I’ll know what my decision is — what I plan on doing,” he said. “Just trying to win games and have fun my senior year.”

He has committed to the University of Florida, if he chooses to play college. It’s part of the influence of his role model, Coon Rapids right hander Logan Shore. Shore was a Gator before Oakland drafted him last year. They’re connected through the same off-season program — the Blizzard.

“I actually DM’d him over Twitter one time. I said, ‘I want to play at Florida one day,’ and I was probably a freshman in high school,” Carlson said. “We’ve been great friends ever since.”

For now, he is here with his team for one final high school season.

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“I love these guys. I’ve played with them since I was 10 years old, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything,” Carlson said.

Mike Max