One of Mike Baumann’s coaches at Mahtomedi says facing the burly fireballer when he’s dialed in is a losing proposition.
“I’ve seen a lot of pitchers,” Mahtomedi assistant Rob Garry said. “The ball just literally explodes out of his hand. Nobody has a bat quick enough if he’s in the zone and staying down. When you have a 90 mile-an-hour fastball and a great, great curveball, it’s really not fair.”
The 6-5, 230-pound pitcher and outfielder leads Mahtomedi, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, with a quiet demeanor, but stands out in stature and production.
“They respect him as a person first and then as a player,” said John Hardgrove, in his 31st year as coach at Mahtomedi. “He doesn’t even have to say anything. You’re going to do the best for him because he is doing his best for you. He sets the tone.”
Baumann, a righthander who signed to play Division 1 baseball for Jacksonville University, throws a fastball that’s touched 90 miles per hour, along with a sharp curveball and a changeup.
Baumann will be one of a handful of Mahtomedi players to advance to the Division 1 level, according to Hardgrove, and has a chance to be the Zephyrs’ second Major League Baseball draft pick ever this June. The first was outfielder Justin Gominsky, drafted by the Houston Astros out of the University of Minnesota in 2011.
“He’s developed into an awfully nice baseball player,” Hardgrove said of Baumann. “Pitching-wise he’s pushing the top three we’ve ever had. I hate to put a number on it. But, statistically, Michael is having a year as good as anybody. He sets the standard for us.”
Baumann is batting .462 with two home runs and a team-high 20 RBI in the cleanup spot. On the mound, he is 4-0 in four starts with 44 strikeouts and a 0.84 earned-run average. He’s averaging 11 strikeouts per game and has allowed only three earned runs this season. Mahtomedi is 15-1 overall and atop of the Classic Suburban Conference at 12-1.
Zephyrs flying high
Mahtomedi is riding a 12-game winning streak, capped by a 5-0 shutout over conference rival Hill-Murray.
“I think we have one of the better teams in the state,” Baumann said. “The biggest thing is our team chemistry. We’re pretty much a senior-dominant team, but the younger guys also play a big role and we’re all pretty close.”
Baumann is in his third year of varsity baseball. He also was a standout two-way lineman for the Zephyrs football team. Baumann, who started playing baseball at age 4, said he grew up idolizing his brother, Nick, a 2007 Mahtomedi graduate who also played football and baseball.
Baumann’s dad, Tom, coached both boys growing up in Mahtomedi and played a major role in their development.
“He taught us all the basics and how to respect the game,” Mike Baumann said. “I owe a lot to him.”
Baumann and the Mahtomedi’s American Legion baseball team, coached by his brother Nick, reached their first state tournament this past summer. A number of the current Zephyrs played on that club, but Mahtomedi has never advanced to the Minnesota State High School League state tournament.
Mike Baumann said his wish this year is to make history.
“I’m just hoping to enjoy every moment with this team and these guys that I grew up playing with,” Baumann said. “I’m hoping for the best. We want to prove to the state we’re one of the better teams. Hopefully we can pull off the state championship.”