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All American Game  | Story  | 8/8/2019

Savino works his way to PGAAC

Blake Dowson     
Photo: Nate Savino (Perfect Game)

After every single trip to the mound for his high school team, Potomac Falls High School in Potomac, Va., Nate Savino meets with a group to discuss his outing.

Savino, his pitching coach, his dad, and his catcher get together to discuss a number of things. That sort of dedication to the craft is rare for a junior in high school. That is some pretty heady stuff from a 17-year-old, and something not many guys that age want to take the time to do, especially if the results aren’t great.

Of course, that’s rarely the case for Savino. That meticulous work ethic is part of what sets him apart from his peers. His mid-90s fastball from the left side paired with a nasty slider that he puts wherever he wants has something to do with it as well.

He could go out and just simply overpower hitters. But he likes having those meetings. He likes to know what to work on.

“After the game, we do this the next day,” Savino said. “We just talk about every inning. What pitches I threw, how I can improve them, what I did wrong that game, what I did right that game, and how I can get better for next time.”

He mixes in a changeup every once in a while, but like Perfect Game scouts noted when Savino pitched at the Perfect Game National Showcase in June, he doesn’t necessarily need it yet because his other stuff is just so good.

That report reads, in part: “Mid-90s fastball, topped out at 96 mph, has excellent running life at times, maintains his velocity from the stretch. Sharp breaking two-plane slider is spotted well and used with good feel, can likely add power to this pitch in the future. No present need for a changeup with two dominant present offerings and command.”

Savino tinkers with his two-seam fastball quite a bit. In fact, he throws two versions of it. He favors the long two-seam version, which gets the excellent run on it that was mentioned in his scouting report. He also throws a cross-seam version, depending on how he wants to shape the pitch in each at-bat.

And when Savino speaks about his slider, it’s like he’s describing a work of art.

Of course, he does like to paint with it.

“When I’m [ahead in the count] 0-2, I like to throw my slider,” Savino said. “I either hang it on the outside corner for a punchout or throw it at their feet and making them swing at it.”

It’s all been a steady progression for Savino. He has grown pretty steadily since he was young. There’s been no eight-inch growth spurt between freshman and junior year that helped him to add 10 mph on his fastball or anything.

He did see a bump in velocity in high school, but attribute that to the work he has put in on the weights and his mechanics.

“My freshman year of high school, I was mid-80s,” Savino said. “Then sophomore year I went out and I was sitting low-90s, maybe topping out at like 93. So that was my biggest jump right there. A lot of it was mechanical for me, and I went to the gym a lot. Compared to other years, I just took the whole fall off and went to the gym a lot. I got more muscle and went on a nutrition plan.”

All of this is a formula. The meetings to discuss his outings, the tinkering with the fastball, the velocity on that fastball, the dedication to the weight room and nutrition plan. Isolated, any one of those individual things makes for a better baseball player.

Put all those things together, and you get Savino, the No. 4 overall player in his class and the No. 1 lefthanded pitcher.

Among all the high-level prospects he is around all summer as he travels all over the place playing, he is one of the best among them. He admits there’s some validation when he sees that ranking, but he basically leaves it at that.

“Seeing that [ranking], it was really awesome,” Savino said. “Being able to know that you’re the best lefty in the class is an awesome feeling. But as much as I love it, I don’t really focus on it that much. I just focus on my game. That’s what I’m concerned with.”

His game has earned him a trip to the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego on August 11, where he will be one of the more highly-anticipated hurlers in uniform.

Savino knows a lot of the guys who will play in the game. They all know each other, really. The same best-of-the-best guys travel around to the same events all summer. They turn into familiar faces. And for Savino, familiar bats in the box.

Like others on the same circuit, Savino has loved the experience. But also described how it can get taxing.

“It’s really cool to travel all these different places and meet all these new people,” he said. “But it’s a long summer and it’s really a grind. But it’s what I love to do.”

It ends with the Perfect Game All-American Classic, an event Savino said he has been looking forward to, and aspiring to, for a long time.

It’s yet another goal he has reached, like signing to play for his home-state school, the University of Virginia.

“I grew up watching the game and wanting to do all that someday,” Savino said. “To be able to do that now, it’s a dream come true. I’m more than excited to play. I can’t wait.”