RAPIDS, Iowa – Knights Baseball National Coach Eric Fruechtemeyer
knows pitching talent when he sees it. The program has seen several
of their pitchers go on to become premium draftees in recent years,
including 2009 first-rounder Rex Brothers.
latest players from his team to emerge are brothers, Jordan and
Justus Sheffield of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Separated by a year in
school, both took the mound for the Knights this week at the 16u WWBA
National Championship in Marietta, Georgia.
2013 grad Jordan Sheffield got the start on Sunday against PAL Elite
he was relatively unknown by the scouting and college recruiting
community. It didn't take long for that to change dramatically.
6-foot-1, 175-pound right-hander pitched comfortably in the 89-92
range with his fastball, topping out at 94. While the numbers alone
are impressive, it's easy to see him adding velocity given the ease
in which he threw.
been working on staying closed longer, and that's helped my
velocity,” Jordan said of his improved fastball. “It was
important to throw strikes. They use a wood bat, so throw strikes
and let them put the ball in play.”
younger brother Justus, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound left-handed pitcher,
got the nod on Wednesday against the East Cobb Astros 15U. A 2014
grad, his velocity too is on the rise, topping out at 88 sitting at
do a lot of bands and long toss to help with our velocity,” said
Justus of his improvement over the last year. “I've been working
on mixing my moves when runners are on base.”
Jordan and Justus also show the ability to change speeds, something
their coach knows is important when pitching against advanced
competition. Jordan throws a sharp curveball as well as a
late-breaking slider, both thrown in the 77-80 range, whereas Justus
throws a curveball and a changeup.
try to preach to all of our guys that it's important to be more than
just a one-pitch guy,” Coach Fruechtemeyer said discussing some of
the things he works on with all of his players. “It takes more
than just a fastball nowadays.”
also apparent that they have been well coached, both on and off the
been impressed the way they handle themselves off the field,”
Fruechtemeyer continued. “They play the game hard, they obviously
have power arms but they also pitch, they're not just throwers.”
experience to play not only against so much elite competition, but in
front of so many professional scouts and college recruiters is very
valuable in any player's development. Like most of the teams
participating in the 16u WWBA National Championship, Fruechtemeyer
has kept his team busy and on the road for most of the summer.
knew what to expect when we came down here, but we were partially
surprised by how hard some of these guys threw,” Fruechtemeyer said
of the players' experience. “There were a lot (of players) here
and there were a lot of people watching them. It not only helps the
two boys (the Sheffield brothers) on the field, but it also helps
every other player on the team getting exposure playing in front the
scouts and the top colleges in the country.”
Jordan and Justus embraced the experience as well.
was a great game,” Jordan said of his outing last Sunday. “It's
been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work went in to get here, it's been
was awesome playing all those teams that I've never played before,”
Justus added. “Playing in front of all of those scouts was a
pretty cool thing.”
of that exposure, Jordan is now talking with numerous elite Division
I programs, including Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Tennessee and
stands to benefit from watching the recruiting process his older
brother has quickly been thrust into. And that adds to the natural
competition the two share as brothers.
makes me better playing with him because of course I want to be
better than him,” Justus said of the increased attention Jordan is
receiving. “We're pretty much each other's competition.”