Prep Baseball Report

Inside the Recruitment: '17 C Cael Baker commits to Cincinnati

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Cael Baker, C, Gahanna Lincoln HS, Class of 2017

PBR: Why did you choose Cincinnati?

Baker: I chose the University of Cincinnati because of the fact that the atmosphere when you're in the stadium is indescribable! When you go to play a Division 1 sport, you expect to play the top tier teams. Cincinnati does exactly that! This year the Bearcats open up down in Baton Rogue, and there's no way better way to start off your season then going down and facing one of the most dominate and most prestiges teams in the country. The facilities that are there at the University are second to none and when you choose somewhere to continue your career, you want to make sure that not just the baseball is top level but the training facilities that you will spend a great amount of time in are also top of the line. At Cincinnati they are! Also Coach Neal is an amazing coach! He has been in some programs that are historically known for great baseball and has brought many of the characteristics of those teams down to Cincinnati. That was one of the big proponents that really drew me to this program. The mentality and the level of competitiveness that Coach Neal and all the coaches bring is another reason I was drawn into the program!

PBR: What other schools were you considering?

Baker: The recruiting process for me was just starting to begin when I decided to commit! Some of the other schools I was considering were Toledo and Eastern Kentucky. When the scholarship was presented to me by Cincinnati I knew right away this was the place I wanted to be. It is the best fit for me and I am excited.

PBR: How does it feel to be a part of a Division 1 program?

Baker: To be a part of a Division 1 program is a blessing! It has been a dream of mine every since I was little to commit and sign to play Division 1 baseball. I am very grateful for the fact that I will be able to compete with the elite talent that is on the team right now but also to play against the other teams on the schedule. I am also very excited to be coached by an elite coaching staff, that will help me to continue to develop as a student-athlete. 

PBR:  Where did Coach Neal first see you compete and how did your relationship develop with the rest of the coaching staff?

Baker: Coach Neal first saw me play in Indianapolis when our summer team went there to play in the Midwest Prospects League. I had kept in contact with Coach Lackaff throughout the recruiting process. I had gone down to one of the universities basketball games for a visit and that is when I met the other coaches on the staff and the relationships with those other coaches took off as well! They are a coaching staff that I knew I could see myself playing for and when the opportunity came I knew it was the best fit for me.

PBR: Was the recruiting process what you expected?

Baker: The recruiting process was just starting to begin for me. When I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship I knew Cincinnati was the best fit for me for many reasons, so accepting it was a no brainer. 

PBR: Who do you play for in the summer and what was your most exciting experience playing summer ball?

Baker: In the summer time I play for The Ohio Elite U17-Ratcliff. It is an outstanding organization that has the intention of getting all of its players to the next level. Playing for the Elite was a decision that required a lot of time commitment but was one of the best decisions! The organization has put me in the spot I am today and has allowed me to be seen by many college coaches, one in particular being Cincinnati! My most exciting experience playing summer ball would have to be when we went to Chicago to play in a tournament last summer. It was our last tournament together as a team because we had players who weren't coming back and we had a few players going to play in the Future Games, so they would not be with us the final weekend. This tournament was held at The University of Illinois at Chicago, and in the semi final game we played the Pro Players Canes Green. In that game I hit two home runs that one landed in the bullpen behind the left field fence that was 375', and I hit another one that had cleared the bullpen behind that fence as well. We went on to be the champions of that tournament. It was so great to be with the guys one last time and go out on such a good tournament!

PBR: What were your stats last season?

Baker: High school: Batted .382, 27 RBI's, 4 HR's, 7 extra base hits. Summer: Batted .420, 40 RBI's, 3 HR's, 16 extra base hits 

PBR: Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced?

Baker: I have faced many dominate pitchers in my career but I could not narrow down this to one pitcher in particular. The best pitchers I have faced were Jackson Wolf from Gahanna Lincoln, Mason Daniels and Chase Antle. Jackson wolf is a LHP with a lot of run on his fastball. His change up has a lot of dive and slide as it crosses home plate. With that his curveball I very sharp break that when it is thrown over the middle of the plate it breaks across the zone and ends up at your shins. Mason Daniels fastball came in at 94 mph with late run on the pitch. Mason's curveball came in about 78mph and had late and very sharp break to it. Mason was very good at locating and hit spots in specific situations. Finally Chase Antle's fastball came in at 92mph and his curveball is what really got you leaning. The curveball was a very quick hitting, sharp breaking off speed pitch. Everytime I faced him it was in a critical situation of the game and we battled it out. I had a few 10+ pitch at bats against him as well. These 3 pitchers were the most dominate pitchers I have faced.