Castleton, N.Y. (NEWS10) — “I’m just worried about the next pitch.” You’d be worried about it too if it’s coming at you out of the hand of Gavin Van Kempen.
The Maple Hill senior tops out in the mid-90s, but the West Virginia commit has a full bag of tricks as a prospect. As the righty generates legitimate MLB buzz, the decision looms between becoming a mountaineer or taking his talents to the pros.
“It does feel surreal right now it just hasn’t set in yet,” Van Kempen said. “I just come out here and play baseball. I know it can get to a couple of guys.”
“There’s a lot of pressure when you go out and pitch with guys back there,” Van Kempen said. “Just go out there and have fun. I got to talk to my parents about what we want to do, college or pro, and moving forward we’ll make that decision.”
Those ‘guys back there’ are MLB scouts. He had reps from more than half the league at his start against Watervliet last week.
“Once in a while it kind of smacks you in the face when he’s throwing bullpens and there are 20 adults with their phones out or their radar guns out but he’s handling it very well I think,” Maple Hill head coach Rico Frese said.
They must’ve walked away impressed. Van Kempen pitched five no-hit innings, racking up 15 strikeouts for his third consecutive no-hitter.
“I use the term boringly efficient like he goes about his business and is very business-like,” Frese said. “He’s emotional but he doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him while he’s out there he just goes about his business.”
With all eyes on the mound, both the coach and player are quick to remind us that it takes nine to play ball.
“I don’t care if there’s like 400, 500 guys back there, I’m just going out there to play baseball with my guys and get stuff done,” Van Kempen said.
“We’ve talked about that,” Frese said. “Like he’s obviously a special player but he’s no more important than anyone else on my team.”
That philosophy has worked well for the 12-3 Wildcats. Whether Van Kempen heads West Virginia or the pros, he’ll be expecting a call from the majors when the MLB Draft begins Sunday, July 17.