Abel Wears Ranking On His Chest

Photo: Mick Abel (Perfect Game)

Blake Dowson
Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mick Abel traveled all the way from Oregon to Atlanta to play in the 2015 13u Perfect Game World Series with his club team, Baseball Northwest.

Abel, already standing at 6-foot at that point, touched 77 mph on his fastball during the tournament, which he admits is pretty hard for a 13-year-old. But there were other kids at the tournament that touched 85 or 90 mph with their fastball.

That proved to be motivation for Abel. He went home and got to work.

“One of the more humbling things was when I was at the 13u World Series. There were a couple guys there that were topping 85 or 90 mph, and I was like, ‘Holy cow,’” Abel said. “There were a lot of guys out there that threw harder than me and it told me I needed to put in more work. So I got with my pitching coach and made progressions with my dad, and it all sort of led up to this. Took a lot of long toss, a lot of throwing, a lot of lifting weights.”

The hard work paid off. Abel was clocked at 97 mph at the 2019 PG National Showcase, which is harder than 99.97 percent of players in his graduating class, and he is now the No. 1 player in the 2020 class, regardless of position. It also earned him an invite to the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego on August 11.

Abel isn’t just a flame thrower, however. He shows a changeup that is developing into a plus pitch, and a slider that is already elite.

That complete arsenal is what earned him the No. 1 overall ranking, and it’s why he is committed to Oregon State, the school he grew up rooting for.

Oregon State was a perfect fit, according to Abel, although he did consider a couple schools out east and another in Texas. But the Beavers were too hard to turn down. Every kid dreams of playing for the team they grew up cheering for, but roughly 99.97 percent of kids don’t get the chance.

“Oregon State has always been my dream school, since I was little,” Abel said. “I grew up a Beaver fan, going to football and basketball games with my aunts and uncles that went to school down there. Just being on campus, it’s an amazing place. The coaching staff is amazing, and I couldn’t ask for anything more out of a college. It’s a blue-collar program. They work their tails off, and that’s how I work, too.”

The success Abel has had on the mound and the ranking that has followed him because of it has put a target on his back at times, or at least it feels that way sometimes when he is at big time tournaments or showcases. Abel said he doesn’t mind that, though, and that it adds to his motivation.

Some people are more comfortable running from the front of the pack.

Abel just seems comfortable in general. He wasn’t afraid to admit it’s cool to be ranked No. 1 in the country. Because, sure it is. Every kid dreams of that.

“It’s an honor to have [the No. 1 ranking.] It’s pretty cool to have that high of a ranking,” Abel said. “But I can’t really let it phase me. Obviously, that has been my goal for years now, turning into the No. 1 pitcher. But it can’t change your mentality. I have to keep working. Now that I’m on top, people will be gunning for me. So I can’t stop, I’ll always be shooting for more.

“Sometimes when I’m with the other top guys in the country, it sort of feels like there is [a target on me.] I don’t really think about it too much. I don’t let it get to me. When I’m on the mound I put rankings aside and just tell myself I have to play my butt off and work around it.”

It really does seem like Abel just wants to find every possible way to get better. One thing he mentioned about going to the All-American Classic is the chance to talk with Perfect Game All-American Classic Honorary Chairman Trevor Hoffman about his arsenal and how he used it to mow opposing hitters down in the ninth inning at Petco Park.

He has set the All-American Classic as a goal of his since 2014, a year before he was pumping 77 mph fastballs in the 13u World Series, because he saw another Oregon product playing in the game.

“It’s a dream come true, honestly,” Abel said. “There was a kid from a local high school where I live, his name is Parker Kelly, he played in the All-American Game in 2014. It was super cool to see that and see him play, so ever since then it’s been a dream for me…The anticipation to hear my name and see my name on the roster is unreal.”

But the thing Abel was most excited to talk about was the work he and the rest of the All-Americans will get to do with Rady’s Children Hospital while they are out in San Diego.

Abel volunteers with a number of organizations in the Portland area, and talked about the importance of doing that for people less fortunate.

“It’s a blessing to do the things I’m able to do up here, with the Miracle League stuff and the kids up in Vancouver with my high school team,” Abel said. “It’s really cool to show up and be able to help them and fulfill their dreams. The best part about it is seeing us put a smile on those kids faces and seeing they’re having a good time while they’re maybe going through a rough time. It’s amazing to see what a bunch of baseball players can do.”

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