Freshman Hunter Gaddis makes most of pitching opportunities

Georgia State baseball player Hunter Gaddis throws a pitch during a game against Western Michigan, Feb. 18, 2017 Photos Submitted by Georgia State Athletics

Hunter Gaddis brings talent as a freshman to Georgia State’s baseball team. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, 202 pounds, Gaddis also brings great size with him to the mound.

In fact, Gaddis genuinely believes that his height offers him an advantage over most batters that approach the plate.

“Oh definitely. Always,” Gaddis said of his superiority over most batters in the box. “You get a little bit more reach to the plate and a little bit more of an angle when you throw — so definitely.”

Obviously, Gaddis dominated as a pitcher during his high school career, being that he was a 2016 Southeast Region honorable mention selection and 2015 Underclass All-American. However, it wasn’t promised that Gaddis would show that same poise and command on the mound at the Division 1 level.

Gaddis has noticed the difference between pitching in high school to now being a rotational pitcher for the Panthers.

“It’s much faster; you gotta execute more, focus more every pitch, you gotta come out every inning with the same energy as the first one,” Gaddis said. Overall, it’s a lot higher level. You just gotta pick it up; it’s a whole new level – you just gotta learn it.”

While the Panthers’ pitchers as a whole have not necessarily performed well, Gaddis has shown some promise of becoming a solid pitcher for the club.

Gaddis is currently tied for first place on the team in wins with three in the year, thus far, according to sunbeltsports.org.

Looking to add to that number, Gaddis credited pitching coach Chris Bootcheck, who played in seven Major League seasons as a pitcher. Gaddis acknowledges Coach Bootcheck for teaching him the ins-and-outs of what it takes to become a dominant pitcher.

“Obviously he had the knowledge I wanted to learn, so I paid close attention to what he was telling me and tried to put it in my works and use that to make me a better pitcher,” Gaddis said about receiving pitching advice from coach Bootcheck.

“He always talked about how when he was pitching, he went after it–attacked every batter, he didn’t care who they were,” Gaddis said. “So how he talks to me, how he gets that into me and just drives me to be a better pitcher, too.”

In retrospect, Bootcheck applauded Gaddis for his work ethic and his ability to create a spark in the bullpen immediately.

“Well we started him in the bullpen, and early in the fall you could see what he brought to the team,” Bootcheck said. “I’m not really surprised with the success he’s having; The stuff was there, his work ethic is there. All of the qualities of a really good player are all there.”

Bootcheck went on to say: “I think being so young and doing what he’s doing speaks a lot for him as an individual, and he’s really helped the teams in a lot of ways – on and off the field.”

Although Gaddis has shown a considerable amount of upside to his game in just his first year with the Panthers, he also acknowledged the fact that he must work on tightening up his delivery of certain pitches, or his fastball to be exact.

“It’s the main pitch. I gotta work on keeping it down more throughout the game…more innings,” Gaddis said. “Try to get it harder, too. It never could hurt to throw a little harder.”

When asked what is his desired pitch to throw, Gaddis considered the cutter, a type of fastball that breaks slightly toward the pitcher’s glove side as it reaches home plate, to be his favorite.

“My cutter is my favorite pitch. Bootcheck actually showed me earlier this season. It’s my first year throwing it, so I’m surprised I could actually use it in my pitching.”

Gaddis has undoubtedly impressed his teammates and coaches with his promising play as a freshman.

But what is Gaddis the most impressed with in his first year as a collegiate pitcher?

Well, his response was quite humbling.

“I’m pretty impressed with the opportunity that I got this year, to be honest, and I appreciate it from the coaching staff and everybody,” Gaddis said with a joyful smile on his face. “And you know, going out there and just really putting my foot on the gas throwing the ball, executing what coach Bootcheck is calling and just going out there and doing my thing.”

As for avoiding a sophomore slump, Gaddis intends on using the upcoming off-season to his advantage.

“Definitely using the offseason to get stronger, and go back to keeping my fastball low, working on the offspeed making sure things are up to speed and make a jump from now to next year.”

Another aspect of Gaddis’ game that will likely improve is his tendency to hit batters.

According to sunbeltsports.org, Gaddis currently has a total of five hit batters.

“Honestly, I don’t see that as a problem,” Gaddis said in a joking manner.

“I love to throw a heater inside. I don’t like people on my plate, either. So, I mean I’ma always throw it inside. I’m not gonna hit my spot every time. If it hits him, it hits him. If it’s in a crucial spot, I’m gonna say ‘Dang it, I wish I wouldn’t have done it.’ But if it’s nobody on nobody out, I don’t care. I mean, I’m tryna hit my spot and I missed it — it’s all good.”

Nonetheless, Gaddis will look to continue to build on what has been a solid freshman year.

Gaddis’ high performance as a freshman

 

  • Has pitched 36.0 innings
  • Has struck out 31 batters
  • Allowed only 27 hits
  • Leads the team with only 14 runs allowed
  • Has only walked 14 batters

 

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