Cam Howard is focusing on development this summer after one season of college baseball. A right-handed pitcher and 2022 graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., Howard has entered the Transfer Portal with three years of remaining eligibility after spending 2022-23 at Western Illinois University. With the Leathernecks, he made 22 mound appearances (20 in relief) with 23 strikeouts and 27 walks in 29 2/3 innings. He also studied Marketing and plans to continue pursuing that at his next stop. Howard, who has long considered his strength as an asset, will be working out and honing his skills at PRP Baseball in Noblesville, Ind. He has been training with the organization at Mojo Up Sports Complex since after his freshman year at HSE. He has worked closely with Anthony Gomez and is currently getting assistance from Luke Jaksich. “I’m pretty strong,” says the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Howard. “I like to lift.” Howard, who turns 20 in August, tends to focus on his lower body with the trap bar, lunges and front squats. For his upper body, he uses dumbbells and kettlebells. Since he began pitching, Howard has thrown “very over the top.” These days, he employs a fastball, curveball, slider and change-up. The four-seam fastball sits at 86-89 mph. The 12-to-6 curve goes 72-74. The “gyro” slider is clocked at 76-78. The “circle” change goes 74-77. Howard is getting out the word on his abilities with videos on Twitter. His handle is @camhoward_3. Part of the football quarterback mix in his first three years at HSE, Howard missed his sophomore baseball season because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 then played two years for then-Royals head coach Jeremy Sassanella. Born in Carmel, Ind., Howard grew up in Fishers. He played with HSE youth travel teams until high school and then went with the Indiana Nitro. In the summer 2022, he played for PRP founder Greg Vogt’s Mambas 18U squad. Cam is the youngest of Jack and Sylvia Howard’s two sons. Jack Howard is in medical Botox sales. Sylvia Howard is a data analyst. Older brother Jackson Howard (Hamilton Southeastern Class of 2016) played baseball at HSE and is now on the Royals coaching staff.
Luke Albright is preparing for his third professional baseball season. The right-handed pitcher from Fishers, Ind., is honing his offerings while participating in spring training at the Arizona Diamondbacks complex — Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Albright spent most of his time following the 2022 campaign in Fishers and worked out five days a week at PRP Baseball at Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville. “It was pretty much full-go most of the off-season,” says Albright. Fridays featured “live ABs” and “high-intent bullpens.” He reported to instructional league in Arizona Jan. 15, went home for a week and came back for early spring camp. Albright, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 230 pounds, throws a four-seam baseball, curveball, slider and change-up from a high three-quarter arm slot. Early this spring, his fastball has been clocked around 93 to 95 mph. It touched 95 mph during the 2022 season. “I’ve made some adjustments in the off-season and it’s gotten a little better,” says Albright. His curve is of the 11-to-5 or 12-to-6 variety. The cutter/slider is “short, late and tight, just barely misses bats and gets a lot of strikeouts.” There is true arm-side fade to the change-up. Albright has been working on adding a “gyro” slider to the mix. “We’re tinkering with it and seeing where it’s going to play,” says Albright. Albright was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Diamondbacks after three seasons at Kent (Ohio) State University, where Jeff Duncan is head coach. With veteran pitching coach Mike Birkbeck guiding him, Albright made 33 mound appearances (21 as a starter) and went 12-7 with two saves and a 2.98 earned run average. In 157 innings, he struck out 178 and walked 71. “As a freshman I had good stuff,” says Albright. “I just didn’t use it effectively. (Birkbeck) got me to be myself and not try to do too much. “Over time, we developed a curveball and change-up and added a slider.” In his 25th season, Birkbeck has worked with 53 student-athletes who have been drafted or signed into professional baseball, including 2011 first-rounder Andrew Chafin and 2016 first-rounder and National Player and Pitcher of the Year Eric Lauer. In 2021, Albright was named second-team all-Mid-American Conference and was MAC Pitcher of the Week after holding No. 2 Mississippi State to one hit over six innings. He set a career-best 13 strikeouts against Ohio. He whiffed 10 or more three times during the 2020 season. Albright pitched sparingly during the summer of 2018 before going to Kent State. He did go to South Bend for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series. He was with the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats in the summer of 2019 and split the summer of 2020 between the College Summer League at Grand Park and the Northwoods League’s St. Cloud (Minn.) Rox. Since Albright logged 82 innings at Kent State in 2021, he hurled just 23 1/3 innings over six starts at Low Class-A Visalia (Calif.) that summer, going 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 11 walks. Albright spent the 2022 season at High Class-A Hillsboro (Ore.). The righty made 26 starts and went 6-10 with a 5.49 ERA. In 123 innings, he fanned 130 and walked 56. Albright grew up in Fishers and played travel ball for the Indiana Mustangs and Indiana Travelers. His pitching instructor before and during high school was Mike Farrell. “He helped bridge that gap from high school to how it would be in college,” says Albright of Farrell. “He told me what you need to do and what you need to learn. “(Birkbeck and Farrell) are two of the most impactful people I’ve met in my baseball career,” says Albright. “They are a tremendous help.” Going into his sophomore year is where Albright saw himself more as a pitcher and less as a hitter. “My hitting skills diminished, but pitching really took off for me,” says Albright. “I saw it could lead to college. At the time that’s all I wanted.” In three varsity seasons at Fishers High School, Albright won 16 games and posted a 2.69 ERA over 143 innings. He fanned 91 as a senior and helped the Matt Cherry-coached Tigers to dogpile with a 2018 IHSAA Class 4A state championship. Albright was the winning pitcher and Grant Richardson picked up the save in the title game. Richardson went on to Indiana University and is now an infielder in the New York Yankees organization. “We weren’t very good my sophomore year (at Fishers),” says Albright. “We had a great team junior year and fell a little short in the (Lafayette Jeff) Regional. “Senior year I got to enjoy what it was like to win the state championship.” Luke, who turned 23 in December, is the oldest of Mark and Amy Albright’s two sons. Brock Albright is now a junior in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. By going back to Kent State after his first pro season and taking online classes, Luke Albright earned his Business degree this past winter and is a few classes shy of a Marketing degree.
Dr. Joe LaPlaca — founder of Ares Elite Sports Vision and Ares Sports Vision Academy — has long had a goal. Graduated from Illinois College of Optometry in 2009, LaPlaca started his sports vision optometry practice in 2018. “I noticed there’s a gap in the market for vision and how it relates to every sport,” says LaPlaca. “In optometry schools and athletics we’re missing it. “There’s a big opportunity there and something I always wanted to do. “Eighty percent of how we experience the world is through our eyes. How do we make this better?” A lifelong athlete, LaPlaca has been involved in soccer, baseball, hockey, wrestling, tennis, football and martial arts and more. “Sports has always been a passion of mine and understanding the nuances of the games and understanding how vision relates to all those sports,” says LaPlaca. “I take this very seriously. It’s primarily for research. I know what impact this can have on an athlete. “This could be the thing that gets a kid a college scholarship or not. This is the thing that could take a Triple-A baseball player up to the major leagues. “If we can clean things up and I can get them bought-in and processing — and I know I can — it’s huge for a lot of people.” “I want to make the biggest impact I can on the sports world.” LaPlaca’s practice is located inside Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville, Ind. LaPlaca sees vision and cognitive training working together. “How do we take all the information we’re getting from the vision side and how does our brain make decisions?,” says LaPlaca. “How does it orient in space?” LaPlaca says athletes encounter visual discrimination. In baseball, batters must learn to recognize pitches based on factors like rotation, release point and speed. “The ones that excel at that are the ones who are able to make the decision once they’ve seen the actual pitch and process that information,” says LaPlaca. “It’s called choice reaction time. Do I swing or do I not swing? If we can break it down to simple steps of ‘do I go’ or ‘do I not go’ that’s what — hitters especially — are concerned the most about. “That’s the holy grail that everybody is chasing right now. How to I train at that piece and how do I know I’m getting better at that thing?” In LaPlaca’s practice, he makes it a point to track all the analytics. “Through training we can equivocally say you’re getting faster in your choice reaction time,” says LaPlaca. “It should improve your batting average, your strikeout percentage (and more). Those are the things coaches are (seeking).” LaPlaca says it is progressions that he puts athletes through that makes the difference. “A lot of people train with their tablet or their phone,” says LaPlaca. “We do a lot more free space. We’re connecting the visual stimuli to an action for your right hand or your left hand or a closed fist or an open fist. There’s eye-hand coordination drills. “All these things are custom for that specific athlete based on specific areas of weakness.” Currently, the youngest Ares client is 9 and the oldest is 64. “There’s no age limit to it,” says LaPlaca. “13 is probably the best. They’ll start going through puberty. They’ll have growth spurts. We can stay on top of how their eyes and brains connect to their body (as they grow). “On the other side they come out and are a lot stronger than kids who weren’t doing vision training.” LaPlaca doesn’t see an end point for this training and that those wishing to be a NCAA Division I athlete or professional will continue this training for a long time. Currently, LaPlaca is working with the baseball programs at Purdue University and the University of Maryland and has worked with Butler University in the past. He has also visited with a Major League Baseball organization. LaPlaca estimates that few of the collegians or pros he works with had heard of vision training and more than a third had never had an eye exam. “That seems to be the more glaring thing,” says LaPlaca. “They think that just a vision screening is good enough. When in the world are they just standing and looking at one specific spot? “They’re using their visual and neurocognitive systems way more frequently than they even understand.” Typically, athletes are evaluated and ranked against their teammates and against other athletes of similar caliber. LaPlaca can identify those with serious visual issues and refer them to a local vision therapist. Ares Elite Sports Vision is on Facebook and Instagram. LaPlaca has been a frequent podcast guest. Here are links to some of those episodes:
Competition. It’s one of the things Carter Lohman likes most about baseball. As a left-handed pitcher, the 2018 Hamilton Southeastern High School graduate enjoys the challenge of facing hitters. In four seasons at the University of Louisville (2019-22), he appeared in 38 games (30 in relief) and went 3-4 with a 5.59 earned run average, 62 strikeouts and 52 walks in 58 innings. The Cardinals went 134-65-1 during Lohman’s time with the program, including 51-18 and a College World Series appearance in 2019. Each season was preceded by the Omaha Challenge — a series of competitions to get the team ready for the season and focused on the goal of ending the season at the CWS. For a week or two, the red and black teams took part in swimming, tire flips, 100-meter dashes, lifting and running and more. There was a truck push around the Kentucky State Fairgrounds. Lohman was in the individual top 10 and on the winning team a couple of times. In high school, he played four varsity seasons (all but his junior year as a pitcher-only) for then-HSE head coach Scott Henson and the Royals did the Victory Challenge (the IHSAA State Finals are at Victory Field) early in the spring semester. “It helped make us mentally and physically tougher,” says Lohman. “(Coach Henson) pushed everyone to get the most out of themselves on the field. Our practices were scheduled nicely. There was no lollygagging. That was our time to get better. “At the same time he knew that baseball is fun so let it be fun.” He struck out 125 batters during his prep career and was ranked as Indiana’s top left-handed pitcher by Perfect Game. He also earned two football letters at HSE. Lohman has also enjoyed development at PRP Baseball at Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville, Ind., working with Greg Vogt, Anthony Gomez and others and going against other players on Fridays. “It’s a good atmosphere for competing and getting better,” says Lohman. Dan McDonnell is Louisville’s head coach. Lohman worked closely with associate head coach/pitching coach Roger Williams. “He did not take a cookie-cutter approach (to each pitcher),” says Lohman of Williams, who has been at the U of L for 16 seasons. “The emphasis was on learning the game and becoming a better player.” Lohman learned about things like bunting scenarios and first-and-third situations. “I could go for days talking about pitch sequencing,” says Lohman. “You can use your pitches in different ways to get the batters out.” Lohman’s been good enough at it to get paid for it. The 22-year-old southpaw was signed Aug. 1 as a minor league free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers is now at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., throwing regular bullpen sessions and expecting to make his pro debut soon in the Arizona Complex League. Lohman, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, throws from a high three-quarter arm slot. His four-seam fastball has gotten up to 96 mph. His two-seamer has similar velocity with more horizontal movement to the arm side as opposed to the glove side for the four-seamer. To get more feel for the pitch, Lohman positions his index finger to throw a “spike” curve ball. Thrown harder than his curve, his slider has more horizontal break. His uses a “circle” grip for his change-up. Born in Indianapolis on Christmas Day 1999, Carter is the oldest of Northwestern High School graduates Brian and Andrea Lohman’s four children. Brian Lohman, a sales engineer, played baseball and football in high school and lettered as a defensive back at Purdue University (1992-95). Andrea Lohman, an actuary, was a high school cheerleader. Griffin Lohman, 21, is a right-handed pitcher at Purdue. Ava and Sydney have played volleyball at HSE. The Lohman brothers were teammates briefly during Carter’s senior year of high school and with the Tropics of the 2021 College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. What was it like growing up with a ball-playing brother? “The biggest thing was playing catch,” says Carter. “We eventually passed up our dad so we had no one else to throw with.” Carter played recreation ball in Fishers until 8 then travel ball for the Fisher Cats, Indiana Bulls and Evoshield Canes (now Canes Midwest) at 16U and 17U. He met Jared Poland around 10 while both were on the Bulls. Right-hander Poland went on to pitch at Indianapolis Cathedral High School and was selected in the sixth round of the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Miami Marlins. “We definitely talk about (pitching),” says Lohman of some of his conversations with Poland. Lohman played briefly with the Indiana Nitro in the summer of 2018 before joining other freshmen on the Louisville campus. He had a short stint in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Orleans Firebirds in 2019 and was with the CSL’s Snapping Turtles in 2020. In May, Lohman earned a degree in Exercise Science. “I’ve always been interested in how the body moves,” says Lohman. “It can help me on the field.” Away from baseball, the knowledge gives Lohman many options including athletic trainer, strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist. But now it’s about competing on the pitcher’s mound.
Dimitri Ivetic does not yet know where he will play college baseball in 2022-23. But the right-handed pitcher has been in this position before and he’s not pushing the panic button. Along his college baseball path, 2019 Highland (Ind.) High School graduate Ivetic has been at Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., Santa Barbara (Calif.) City College and Danville (Ill.) Area Community College. Ivetic (pronounced Eave-Uh-Titch) made the decision to attend each only a few weeks before going there. “I think it helps me weigh my options and advice and make the decision that I think works best for me,” says Ivetic, 21. Born in Dyer, Ind., and played in the Highland Babe Ruth League, then travel ball with Morris Chiefs (now 5 Star Great Lakes Chiefs) coached by Matt Mamula and Dave Sutkowski and Florida Pokers. His head coach at Highland High was John Bogner. “He’s very adamant on the fundamentals,” says Ivetic of Bogner. “He was very big on arm healthy and keeping guys healthy. Those are the biggest things I’ve been able to carry over into college. “We had a rough senior year, but my sophomore and junior years we won quite a few games.” How did a kid from northwest Indiana end up on the West Coast? “Ever since I was younger it was my dream to play college baseball,” says Ivetic. “My favorite school was UCLA. I always wanted to play there. I wasn’t good enough to go to UCLA so I decided to go to JUCO out in California.” Through a friend, Ivetic met Palomar pitching coach Hayden Carter while the latter was managing the summer wood-bat Kokomo (Ind.) Jackrabbits. After a visit and seeing the facilities and experiencing the weather, Ivetic joined the program. The righty got into five games totaling three innings for the 2020 Palomar Comets. “I struggled with command a little bit,” says Ivetic. “Then the pandemic hit and we got shut down with mandates and restrictions. We are all like super-disappointed. “During that time I was able to go throw at nearby fields. On one of the last days I strained my forearm. I felt something pull in there. “That bugged me for the next couple months. I worked through it and made some mechanical adjustments which ended up paying off.” Away from baseball, Ivetic went to the beach and on hikes with his roommates. “We became a lot closer,” says Ivetic. “Those are some of my best friends to this day that I still talk to (regularly).” In the summer of 2020, Ivetic did not play but trained at Randy Sullivan’s Florida Baseball ARMory in Lakeland. “He’s a great guy,” says Ivetic of Sullivan. “He’s very innovative. He helped me a lot over the course of a couple years.” When Ivetic learned that the pandemic was going to keep Palomar from baseball activities in the fall of 2020 he decided to transfer to Santa Barbara City College. That turned out to be a tough situation with several COVID-19-related shutdowns and — eventually — no 2021 season. He played for the Bomb Squad in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., then went back to Santa Barbara in the fall and it did not go well. “My velocity was down and I struggled,” says Ivetic. “I made one little adjustment that kind of messed everything up.” During his fall exit meeting, Ivetic was advised that if he wanted more playing time in 2022 he should transfer so he went back to the Midwest and Danville Area, where he pitched in 12 games (26 2/3 innings) and went 2-2 with two saves, 36 strikeouts and 12 walks. “Danville was great,” says Ivetic. “The coaches were great. We struggled through some stuff, but overall it was decent. “I definitely made some memories.” Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Ivetic uses a four-seam fastball (which has been clocked as high as 90 mph), curveball and sweeping slider. “My slider is what I’ve been most comfortable with,” says Ivetic. “I can throw it for a strike in basically any count. It’s got more horizontal movement, but sometimes it will start to look more like my curveball.” Ivetic says he could return to Danville Area in the fall, but has no plans to do so. “It wouldn’t make much sense to go back to junior college at this point because — academically — it would just put me so far behind on how many credits would transfer,” says Ivetic, a Finance major who is in the Transfer Portal. “I’m not quite sure where I’m going. But we’re starting to get some idea of where I’d like to go.” Ivetic is back with the CSL’s Bomb Squad and was named to the July 4 All-Star Game. He also trains with PRP Baseball at the Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville, visiting there before games at Grand Park. PRP Baseball, which was founded by Greg Vogt (now a rehab pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays organization), is under the day-to-day guidance of Anthony Gomez. He has coached Ivetic since he was 16. Dimitri is of Serbian descent and the only child born to Zarko and Paula Ivetic. His father sells for Jack Tuchten Wholesale Produce in Chicago and his mother works at Nordstrom.
Greg Vogt spent years building a training business he calls PRP Baseball (Passion Resilence Process) and others noticed. The Toronto Blue Jays were impressed enough to offer Vogt the job of Rehab Pitching Coach. Vogt, a graduate of Carmel (Ind.) High School (2008) and Anderson (Ind.) University (2012), accepted and recently moved wife Whitney and three boys — Parker (6), Griffen (4) and Jackson (4 months) — close to the Jays complex in Dunedin, Fla. The organization has established a new 65-acre Player Development Complex for Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball players about 10 minutes from TD Ballpark where the Blue Jays play spring training games. Built during the COVID-19 lockdown, the facility has multiple tools to train and evaluate players including Trackman, Edgertronic, Rapsodo and HitTrax — all tools that Vogt and his staff use at PRP Baseball which is housed at Mojo Up Sports Complex (formerly known as Finch Creek Fieldhouse) in Noblesville, Ind. “That was a big part of making this decision, seeing their investment in player development,” says Vogt, who is in charge of players on the throwing side and is creating some bigger systems including arm care to keep athletes healthy. He regularly meets with pitching coaches and directors of player development. A biomechanical lab with six or seven Edgertronic high-speed cameras allows the tracking of movement, force and other measurable elements that can give feedback to the pitcher. “We can give them a real breakdown,” says Vogt. “(The camera) reads 1 second pitch and there’s like 30-second video. “We can make adjustments to make movement or the pitching arsenal better.” While getting to know faces of players and other Jays personnel, Vogt begins seeing pitchers in various stages of rehab early in the morning. They are split into groups. Depending on the day or their needs or programs, these hurlers may do some combination of throwing, weight lifting and medical treatment. Vogt says PRP Baseball being the “home in Indiana and beyond for all high-level baseball training is still the goal and it continues to be executed. “Our philosophy will be the exact same. We continue to have more college commitments and (MLB) draftees.” So far, 58 players from the Class of 2022 who train with PRP Baseball — in-person or remotely — have made college commitments. Vogt is still the Director of Operations for PRP Baseball and stays connected with his staff in Noblesville that includes Lead Hitting Coach Quentin Brown (who is also now a minor league hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates), Director of Hitting Jake Douglass, Pitching Coach Christian Dukas, Director of Player Development for Pitching Anthony Gomez, Pitching Coach Marcus McCormick, Hitting Coach Noah Niswonger, Director of Camps and Floor Trainer Seth Story, Pitching Coach Tasker Strobel and Director of Sports Performance Bram Wood. Gomez is handling more daily operations responsibilities with Vogt currently off-site. Vogt is still Director of Operations for PRP Baseball and manages all systems and marketing. “I can still take off the work load on some of the back end stuff like making sure we have space, sign-ups, programming software and building spreadsheets,” says Vogt. “Delegating to on-site staff very important to their growth as well.”
Anthony Gomez is full of gratitude for a career in baseball. The Director of Player Development for Pitching at PRP Baseball (Passion Resilience Process) housed at Mojo Up Sports Complex (formerly known as Finch Creek Fieldhouse) in Noblesville, Ind., joined the company in August 2020. He recently gained more daily operations responsibilities with PRP Baseball Founder and Director Greg Vogt becoming the Rehab Pitching Coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Before coming to PRP Baseball, Gomez spent four years as a coach/instructor at Morris Baseball (now 5 Star Great Lakes) in northwest Indiana, working with Bobby Morris and Dave Sutkowski. In the summers, he coached for Morris Baseball (2017-19) and Chicago-based and Al Oremus-led Prairie Gravel (2020). “I have thankfulness for Bobby Morris allowing me to work at his facility and the things that he taught me,” says Gomez. “That’s another another part that’s allowed me to be where I today.” Gomez called his training group of 150-plus players raining from middle school to collegiate to professional levels the Region Jabronis. “That was 22-year-old me being funny,” says Gomez of the satiric name. “A Jabroni is a term is to describe someone is all talk. “We don’t want to be all talk. Let’s put in the work. I don’t want to hear you talking about it. “Results always speak.” Gomez, who has various certifications including OnBaseU pitching evaluation and Driveline Baseball and studied with Randy Sullivan at Florida Baseball Armory and taken the Brian Cain mental performance class. “All coaches should be equipped to handle the psychological end,” says Gomez. “They can be mentors to them to handle stresses when they’re treading water. “Ultimately, we’re trying to help people.” Gomez, who has read “Old School vs. New School: The Application Of Data & Technology Into Baseball” by Eugene Bleecker is always growing his baseball knowledge. He shares his insight on the biomechanics of throwing, intertwining weight room work to benefit throwers and understanding human movement to help PRP Baseball athletes become more efficient movers on the field. The man who turns 28 on March 4 is all-in for baseball and the development of players, particularly pitchers. There was a time when Gomez lost his zeal for the diamond. A left-handed pitcher, Gomez was not planning to play baseball in college and was going to focus his attention on his studies. Then just as his senior year at Munster (Ind.) High School was ending in 2012, Gomez received an offer from Vincennes (Ind.) University coach Chris Barney and a scholarship to play for the junior college Trailblazers. Gomez saw a liveliness in Barney. “He was filled with fire and passion for his coaching,” says Gomez of Barney. “He’s an energetic dude. He was ready to get after it each day. He would hold you accountable. That’s what you want from a coach.” At Munster, Gomez played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Shinkan. “That guy’s got a huge heart,” says Gomez of Shinkan. “He cares about his players down deep.” After Gomez finished college, Shinkan allowed him to help coach at his alma mater. “I have a lot of gratitude for him,” says Gomez of Shinkan. “He allowed me to help on staff and run workouts. “I thought I’d be an actuary, but he helped put me on my current path.” Looking back to Vincennes, Gomez was throwing a bullpen during his freshman year when his back lock up on him. It turned out to be a bulging disk and kept him from playing. “I lost my passion for the game,” says Gomez, who decided to follow his original plan and told Barney he was transferring to Ball State University to be a student only and begin working toward an Actuarial Science degree and Computer Science minor. Then George Bizoukas — longtime Highland American Legion Post 180 manager — let Gomez know that he was still age-eligible to play for his team that summer. Gomez, who split his last two high school summers between Post 180 between the Downers Grove, Ill.-based Longshots Baseball, decided to give playing another try. “George allowed me to have fun with the game,” says Gomez. “Without him I don’t know if I’m in the position I am now. “It went phenomenal. I decided ‘I’m back.’ I’m going to work as hard as I can the rest of the summer and go to (Ball State) walk-on trials. After seeing Gomez throw about 10 pitches in the bullpen, Cardinals coach Rich Maloney called the lefty that night letting him know he had made the team. Gomez redshirted in the spring of 2014 and made one mound appearance in 2015 before being cut. “Coach Maloney is someone I really respect,” says Gomez. “He’s a straight shooter. I was not meeting the expectations. I could be considered as a waste of a roster spot. “(Maloney) is a phenomenal culture coach. We had an awesome tight-knit group (as 2014 Mid-American Conference champions). I still keep in-touch with those guys.” Gomez grew up in northwest Indiana with a talent for baseball. His 15U summer (between freshmen and sophomore year), he played with the 17U Indiana Breakers. “I made varsity the next year,” says Gomez. “I credit that to playing 17U ball as a freshman.” In the summer of 2010, Gomez was on the Ed Woolwine-coached 16U Indiana Prospects. Then came the two summers with the Rob Rooney-coached Longshots and Highland Post 180. At PRP Baseball, Gomez spends the bulk of his time on the throwing floor. He estimates that there are close to 300 athletes just in the youth and high school groups. Gomez is also in charge of running a remote service that currently has about 25 players. They send him weekly videos of them throwing, lifting etc., and they talk on Zoom and phone calls. “It’s all about communication,” says Gomez. “I can’t coach what I can’t see.” Anthony is the son of Edward Gomez and Karyn Condes and has two sisters and two brothers. His father played soccer at Indiana University. His stepfather is Michael Condes.