Q & A with Mizzou Commit RHP Nolan Gromacki (Smithville, 2014)

Shon Plack
Missouri Scouting Director

Nolan Gromacki (Smithville, 2014) is a 6-foot 180-pound RHP that has recently signed to play at the University of Misssouri next year. As he prepares for his final baseball season, Gromacki gave us a chance to take us through the recruiting process and how he became a Missouri Tiger. 

PBR: What were your expectation about the recruiting porcess?  Was it as expected?  Easy/Difficult?

Gromacki: I went into the recruiting process unsure on whether or not I wanted to pursue baseball or football in college.  My recruiting process was a bit unconventional because I mae a list of school I felt I could play at, some for football and some for baseball, and then I would go to my selected school and attend a summer or winter porspect camp and try my best to impress the right guys.  The process was difficult at first, but as I continued to improve my skill and game confidence the right coaches began to notice. 

PBR:  Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Gromacki: Locaton was never really a factor for me.  My perfered school were spread all across the country and I ended up at camps at UC-Santa Barbara, Rice, Buckness, Penn, Princeton, Minnesota, North Dakota State, Vandrbilt, Washington State, Kansas Sate and Missouri. I had no idea that in the end of the day I would be a 2 hour drive away from home at Mizzou, but the trips were great experiences and I was able to see a wide variety of baseball and football programs from virtually every region in the United States

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Gromacki: The first time I was seen by Missouri coaches was at a Mizzou Baseball Caravan camp at Liberty North High Shcool.  The assistant coaches and player at the camp were very impress with what they saw from me and invited me to a winter camp at Mizzou so I could be seen by the entire coaching staff.  I showed up to the winter camp and performed very well, sitting 88-89 with my fastball, and from there Coach Hobbs and Coach Jackson informed me that they were very interested in my recruitment.  I returned for another camp about a mother late and it was there that I received and accepted an to play at Mizzou.

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state and why?

Gromacki: The best player I have ever faced in the state of Missouri was Blake McFadden, a 2012 graduate out of Savannah who is playing at Kansas State.  Blake was the most dominating high school pitcher I had ever faced and he had a stellar senior season after which he was named Gatorage Player of the Year for Missouri.  He was the first 90 plusarm I had gone up against and hew as very difficult pitcher to hit not only because of his power arm, but because he was simply a great competitor.  Not only on the mound, he was also a standout on the football field and basketball court as well. 

PBR: What has been the lowest point in your baseball career; what have you learned from it and how has it helped you grow as a player?

Gromacki: The lowest point in my baseball career was when I was playing little league around 10 or 11 years old. I was sitting the bench a lot of games while the coaches played their sons over me. I was getting an inning here or there and not really enjoying the game as much as I should have been. I’ll never forget the day my aunt came all the way from Minnesota to see me play baseball and I wasn’t in the lineup that day. My mom marched right into the dugout, asked the coach if I was going to play at all in one of the two games that day and he said that the coach said he couldn’t guarantee it, so my mom took my hand and we walked right out of the dugout and away from that team forever. On the way home I told my aunt that I really was a good baseball player even though the coaches didn’t think I was.  It was from that point forward that I wanted to become the best baseball player I could be to prove to myself that I really was a good ballplayer. Today out of all of the kids on that team, I’m the only one going on to play baseball at the highest level.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were an elite player and become serious about taking your game to the next level?

Gromacki: This last summer when I was playing for a Demarini Missouri All-Star team, I hit 90 mph on the radar gun for the first time and coaches began to take notice. I realized that I could play baseball not only at the next level, but in conferences such as the Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC and began working to make what was once just a dream into a reality.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Gromacki: I was looking for a program that could offer me the best combination of academics and baseball. I plan on being an engineering major and needed to find a school that would support me as I pursued an engineering degree, while also giving me a chance to contribute early and further develop my pitching skills.

PBR: What is your best attribute as a baseball player and how does that transfer onto the field for your team?

Gromacki: My best attributes as a player would have to be my competitive drive and mental toughness. I was born and raised a competitor and live to be the guy a team can count on in clutch situations. I like to bring the same mentality and energy I had when I sacked quarterbacks or ran the football, and translate that mindset onto the mound as I attack hitters. I feel I am the type of player that  coaches can trust with the ball in any situation. My teammates will always get my best effort because I feel that nobody has a greater desire to win than me when a  baseball is in my hands.

PBR: What part of your game needs the biggest improvement, why, and what will you do to improve it?

Gromacki: My changeup is what I am going to be focusing on improving this year because at the moment I feel it is not up to SEC standards like my other pitches. In high school, power pitchers can usually get by without a lot of off speed pitches. In a conference like the SEC I will be going up against some of the best hitters in the country, and when I can’t just blow fastballs by them I will have to learn how to effectively change velocity on my pitches in order to throw off disrupt a hitter’s  timing.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Gromacki: I am always telling young ballplayers that they get out what they put in when it comes to training and practicing for the game of baseball- or any sport for that matter. In baseball specifically it can be easy to lose focus and coast through practices at times.  If kids wish to some day get to where I am now, the best advice I can give is  to do everything they do with a purpose and set goals along the way. As young players continue to achieve their goals and develop as a baseball player, and keep strong morals and carry themselves the right way, then they will surely be able to find a place to continue their baseball careers at the next level.

PBR: What do you do in the offseason to keep yourself in baseball shape and prepare for the upcoming season?

Gromacki: I work out five to six days a week during the offseason to help keep me at my best. I am a firm believer in Ron Wolforth’s methods used at the Texas Baseball Ranch and have been using his program at Regal Athletic in Kansas City to develop my velocity for around 3 years now. We model everything in our program off what Coach Wolforth does down in Texas and I have even been fortunate enough to attend one of his Elite Pitcher Bootcamps this winter.  However my workouts are not just geared towards being a pitcher and throwing the baseball. I put a lot of emphasis on training to be as explosive an athlete as possible so I work with Drake Pollard at Boost Sports Performance in Liberty. I began going to Drake 2 years ago to develop speed, strength, and explosiveness for the football field. Now that  my football career is over, I still train as would a college football player. Athleticism plays a much bigger role in pitching that most people know and by improving my overall athleticism over the years, I have really improved as a pitcher.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Gromacki: My most memorable moment in my baseball career was when I came three outs away from a perfect game last season against our rivals Platte County. I was really in my zone this game and our team was really tuned in and playing some of the best baseball of our season. All of this coming in a heated rivalry game just made the experience so much sweeter.

PBR: What to you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Gromacki: What I like most out of the University of Missouri is the coaching staff and the players. Coach Hobbs is very knowledgeable pitching instructor and Coach Jamieson has been at Missouri for 20 years now and really knows what it takes to win. Everyone in that program made me feel right at home and I got a sense of being a part of one big family not only from the team, but from the entire university. There truly is something special about being a Missouri Tiger and the having the opportunity to help build a championship team in the country’s premier baseball conference was a huge factor in my decision.

PBR:  What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Gromacki: Washington State and Kansas State were the schools along with Missouri in my top three.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Gromacki: The recruiting process really started to heat up for me this offseason after visiting Washington State, Kansas State, and Missouri for prospect camps and earning the interests of their coaching staffs.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us.  How do you feel your team will be?  What are the expectation and goals?

Gromacki: Smithville is coming into this season as the 6th ranked team for Class 4, and that is for a reason. We have a very talented senior class this year and we have all been excited for this season since we all began playing together in grade school. We are a really tight-knit group that has a strong desire to win a lot of baseball games. Our primary goal is to win our District this year after coming in 2nd place in the District Championship game that past 4 years. We are already putting in the work this offseason to help end this streak and we feel that if we are able to make it out of Districts, we have a great chance of potentially making a run to the Final Four.

PBR: Were do you play in the summer?  And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Gromacki: This past summer I played for Regal Plastic of the Ban Johnson League here in Kansas City. Playing in the league gave me the opportunity to participate in summer workouts with the football team and travel to schools across the country for summer camps. My most memorable experience would be coming in as the only high schooler in the league and playing with a great group of guys from many different local colleges that I learned a lot from and really bonded with over the course of the summer.

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