Tournaments | Story | 7/16/2017

Fuel’s Wohlgemuth throwing gas

Steven Walters        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – The WWBA events always attract the best teams and players from across the country, but a 95-mph arm is not usually present in the 15u event. That is the case this year in the 15u WWBA National Championship, as the Oklahoma Fuel possesses the hard throwing Nate Wohlgemuth.

The righty is ranked as the No. 5 player in the class of 2020 and consistently throws in the low- to mid-90s on the mound. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Wohlgemuth has been on the radar for years now, throwing 90 mph ever since he was 13 years old. Although he throws hard, the Owasso, Okla., native shows a good feel for pitching. Scouts have commented on the life his changeup and curveball, not something all hard-throwing 15-year-olds own.

“Free and easy. If I try throwing it too hard, then stuff just starts going everywhere, so that’s just my mindset, free and easy,” Wohlgemuth said.

He attributes that velocity from a young age to extra work he dedicated to his craft as a 12- and 13-year-old. Although he is not the biggest player physically, he has progressed tremendously over the past year, bumping up his velocity a few mph in addition to adding to his strength. Playing outfield when he is not on the mound, the Wohlgemuth has also seen that work pay off at the plate, posting an 88 mph exit velocity at the 2016 Midwest Underclass Showcase.

“I’ve had him since he was 10,” said Fuel head coach Jeff Parsons. “He’s always been a great arm, so he’s always been able to throw hard, so just for him it’s getting command and staying ahead of batters. He improves just by his strength and his work and his program that we follow with his arm. He’s just trying to get better every day.”

His arm and work ethic have landed him on teams such as the 2015 14u USA National Team, and even then he was one of the younger players on the team. Last year, he was selected to play in the 14u PG Select Baseball Festival in Fort Myers, Fla. The event hosts the top 40, 14-year-old players, and Wohlgemuth said that playing with and against players of that talent level allowed him to learn a lot about the game.

“It was a great experience. I liked it a lot,” Wohlgemuth said. “Got some cool things, got to play with some great players. I think I could’ve performed better. I was about to go in and then we had a lightning delay and then had to wait 30 minutes, then had to re-warmup, so I feel like if there was no lightning delay, I would’ve done better.”

Wohlgemuth made Owasso High School’s varsity baseball roster as a freshman this spring, once again showing that he can compete at a high level on the field against older competition. Owassa is no slouch of a program either, producing players like Dylan Bundy and Pete Kozma, and consistently making runs in the playoffs.

“It’s awesome playing for that team,” Wohlgemuth said. “They’ve had 13 state championships, most in Oklahoma, going in there and starting as a freshman is a big accomplishment in my book.”

This is actually not his first time playing in the 15u WWBA either. The righty played in the 2015 WWBA in his 13-year-old season, competing two levels up. In the 16u WWBA last week, the 16u Oklahoma Fuel called Wohlgemuth up, and the 16-year-old posted solid numbers, striking out six batters while walking three in 3 1/3 innings on the mound and collecting a hit and two RBIs at the plate.

“I like facing competition, so when I get to face older kids, I want to show them that this is the reason why I’m a top player,” Wohlgemuth said. “That team’s just scrappy. I love playing with that team. We weren’t a built team, a bought team full of kids from everywhere, we were just an Oklahoma team, so I thought that was pretty cool.”

Besides Wohlgemuth, four other players on the 15u roster participated in the 16u event with the older Fuel team, including Cole Ketzner, Ryan Lynn, Christopher Spry and Seth Stacey. They were able to make it to the round of 32 before the 643 DP Cougars Sterling won 1-0 and knocked them out of the tournament. Parsons was the head coach of that squad, too, and is now back with his 15-year-old team, looking to have similar success.

“Last year we actually had part of this team and part of that team merged together, so this year we felt like our younger guys needed to stay down and play in their age instead of playing up, so they’re definitely a part of each other and support each other,” Parsons said. “They fed off of that too, and I think that what the 16-year-olds did, did help set the stage a little bit for this bunch to realize that they can come in here and get a long way as long as they go in there and compete a little.”

That example set by the older team translated into a 2-0 start in the 15u event, winning their first two games of the tournament by big margins. The offense came up big in their first two games, winning by scores of 11-1 and 8-0. Wohlgemuth contributed in both of those games at the plate, going a combined 4-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs, four runs and four stolen bases, showing that he is even more than just a pitcher. Unfortunately, the Fuel dropped their next two in pool play. They are sitting in the middle-of-the-pack in their pool and are hoping they can turn things around with three games left in pool play.

“We hit the ball good yesterday and we hit a couple balls that could’ve changed the game yesterday and kind of got hung up in some wind, but they were patient at the plate the first day and we had a good plan for the kids that were throwing,” Parsons said. “I don’t think we’ve even seen our offense do what it can do yet. Hopefully [moving forward we] will start that up again, but they’ve still got to work to do.”

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