Q&A: 2020 LHP Luke Baker
October 31, 2018
For 2020 LHP Luke Baker of Buchholz HS, determination, hard work, and the love of the game are the key elements of being a successful baseball player on and off the field. The talented lefty and now Mississippi recruit knew that talent alone couldn’t get him to where he wanted to go, so he looked to improve in every way possible to set himself up to succeed not only in the present, but in the future as well.
Throughout his first couple years of high school, Baker credits the willingness to get himself out there, show his true potential among some of the best competition not only in the state, but the country as well. Events like the PBR Florida Underclass Games, Preseason All-State, and especially the 2018 PBR Future Games gave him the opportunity to do just that. When asked about the impact the PBR Future Games had on his recruiting process, Baker said, “To keep it simple, I think 90% of the near 30 schools that called me on September 1st said they saw me in Indy at the Future Games. I had received interest from a few schools prior to it, but it got me in front of so many new coaches.”
After narrowing it down to his final four in (Central Florida, Jacksonville, Mississippi, and Tulane) the decision came down to honoring those key core values in determination, hard work, and love of the game. Mississippi checked all those boxes, and as Baker explains, it just felt like the right fit.
“I wanted a school where I knew I was going to be challenged and have to really earn the job as the Friday night guy. I always perform better when I'm challenged, and I think at Mississippi I will be really forced to work hard and exceed expectations. I also wanted a school that really felt like home to me. The coaches have all been spectacular to talk with and I could tell they wanted me there as much as I wanted to be there.”
Looking ahead to his junior season with the Buchholz Bobcats, Baker is excited for the potential they have for a shot at the district championship. While they may not wow you with tape measure home runs, Baker believes they have the right formula to pull it off, “ This year we will have a lot of our starting 9 back, considering we only lost 3 seniors. We're a scrappy team; you won't see us hitting balls 400 feet, but we pressure the other team and get hits and strikeouts when we need them.”
As Baker continues to shine throughout his high school career and looks forward to his time with Mississippi, he’ll always be able to look back and reminisce on some of his most memorable moments like “pitching in events like the PBR Future Games or pitching in high school rivalry games." For Baker though, the game of baseball has given him so much not only on the field, but the relationships he's formed from it, "I've met so many new people through baseball, it's such a wonderful sport.”
Love of the game, hard work, and the determination to be the best. That’s LHP Luke Baker.
Below are the answers to a Q and A we did with 2020 LHP Luke Baker of Buchholz HS, FL:
What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult? My expectations were at first along the lines of "they'll find me," but after a couple schools went cold on me I decided to start putting myself out there and attend showcase events such as PBR showcases. In the end, it wasn't easy, but if you're determined you can do it.
What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at? I wanted a school where I knew I was going to be challenged and have to really earn the job as the Friday night guy. I always perform better when I'm challenged, and I think at Mississippi I will be really forced to work hard and exceed expectations. I also wanted a school that really felt like home to me. The coaches have all been spectacular to talk with and I could tell they wanted me there as much as I wanted to be there.
Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision? In some ways it did. I wanted something in the southeast, but I also needed the school to not have an outrageous tuition or out-of-state fee. My mom also wouldn't let me get too far away from her, so that was part of the process.
How did playing for Team Florida at the 2018 PBR Future Games help in your recruiting process? To keep it simple, I think 90 percent of the near 30 schools that called me on Sept. 1 said they saw me in Indy at the Future Games. I had received interest from a few schools prior to it, but it got me in front of so many new coaches.
What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision? The thing I love about Ole Miss is that the reputation they have among people I've talked with is one of the best that I've heard. When I was on my visit, I could tell they were genuine and really wanted to have me at their school. The pitching coach also had told me things he liked about my pitching that I heard no one else tell me before, so I knew he recognized my abilities and potential.
What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision? I had taken 4 visits, which were my final four. I went to UCF, Jacksonville, Tulane, and Ole Miss.
At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level? During my freshman year, I had talked with coaches at the University of Florida, and I had realized then that I had something that they liked. In my head, if they liked something I did, I obviously had a shot at the next level.
What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are? First of all, you have to love the game. If you don't enjoy playing a game, then why are you even playing? Also, don't rush anything. I committed to one of the best SEC schools my junior year. I know people who committed right after 8th grade. People have different timelines and different fits. An SEC school may not provide the best experience for one player, but another may thrive at one. You really just have to go with your gut feeling, and if you feel comfortable with a school then go for it. At the same time, don't jump into something too early. I know people who committed young and then had their scholarship pulled do to some reason. Just wait for the right time and place, it will all work out.
What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point? I think pitching in events like the Future Games or pitching in high school rivalry games have been the most memorable. I've met so many new people through baseball, and it's such a wonderful sport. The recruiting process was also a crazy experience to go through, but it's been mostly enjoyable.Preview your spring high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals? This year we will have a lot of our starting 9 back, considering we only lost 3 seniors. We're a scrappy team; you won't see us hitting balls 400 feet, but we pressure the other team and get hits and strikeouts when we need them. I'm going for at least a district championship, but I hope to help lead us to a long playoff run. As our coach says, if you win your last game that means you won it all.