The fastball flying from his right hand clocks in the 80s, he measures 6’3” and he just committed to play baseball for Florida State University.
What makes this newsworthy? Pitcher Kale Fountain is only in the eighth grade.
Fountain hasn't played a single high school game and he already has a spot reserved on a college roster. Last week, the 14-year-old gave a verbal commitment to accept a scholarship to play for the Seminoles in 2024.
College recruiters noticed Fountain in showcase games across the country with the Nebraska Prospects, his travel ball team. A handful of recruiters contacted the team, which is based in Omaha, to express interest in Fountain.
When multiple colleges are interested in an athlete, the player has the advantage of selecting which college is the best fit for him or her. The Seminoles also had a few advantages when it came to attracting Fountain.
One reason is the weather. Fountain prefers playing in the warm weather of Florida. In his home state of Nebraska, the summers and fall are hot but the winters have biting winds, freezing temperatures and sometimes snow, hail, and ice. He discovered his preference for warmer temperatures when he traveled to Florida to play in the United States Specialty Sports Association Elite World Series at age eight.
"Playing down there for the first time was one of my favorite memories," Fountain said.
Florida State's second advantage came thanks to a previous interaction Fountain had with Seminoles players. In the summer of 2012, he attended his first college baseball game at the College World Series. After watching an FSU game, some of the Seminoles players talked with fans, including Fountain. It was then that he decided he wanted to play college baseball at the highest level.
"They were someone to look up to," he said. "That's where my D-1 baseball dreams all started."
One of the Seminoles players handed Fountain an FSU baseball. That ball still sits on his desk.
"It's my good luck ball," he said.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has canceled spring games, baseball is still a big part of Fountain's daily schedule. He hits every day, completes his throwing programs every other day and goes in the bullpen once a week. Fountain's future on the field will be as a two-way player; which means he must work on his hitting and pitching.
The addition of weights to his workout regime last fall has really shown its advantages on the pitching mound. When he started lifting, Fountain weighed 160 pounds and had a pitching speed of about 75 mph. He now lifts five to six days a week and the results are easy to see. Not only has Fountain added 20 pounds to his frame, but his speed increased to 82, 83 and sometimes 84 mph.
Nebraska Prospects coach Alex DeLaet said Fountain's dedication to constantly improving is why colleges are interested in him. DeLaet started coaching Fountain last fall and has been impressed by his determination.
"He's an imposing figure physically, and he gets everything out of that," DeLaet said. "He’s the hardest-working kid I've ever been around."
Players as young as Fountain have the opportunity to attract recruiters from across the country thanks to their ability to post videos online and travel to showcase tournaments. For athletes wanting advice on how to go from being seen to getting an athletic scholarship, DeLaet offers some advice.
"Just look at Kale," he said. "Put your head down and work. That's what he has done. And this is what he has accomplished so far based off his work effort."
With all the workouts, practices, and games, Fountain's schedule is pretty full. If the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, he will play for the Omaha Tigers this summer, Nebraska Prospects in the fall, and Norris High School in the spring of 2021.
Although baseball will likely be a major part of his life for years to come, Fountain says he still finds time to relax and be a teenager.
"I am a normal 14-year old," he said. "I play video games, hang out with friends, ride my bike and fish."