Northcut takes his cuts at Yankee Stadium
Joey Deaton | Staff Writer
Senior Nick Northcut is no stranger to the big stage. He made the varsity baseball team and started as a freshman. He committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores his sophomore year of high school. This summer, Northcut traveled to all corners of the United States to participate in high school baseball showcases, reserved for the highest rated, most talked-about high schoolers in the country.
First on the schedule was East Coast Pro, an Adidas-sponsored event that featured the best recruits east of the Mississippi river. The players got to play in Tampa, Florida at the New York Yankees spring training facility.
“It was a lot of fun,” Northcut said. “There was a ton of scouts there, and it was fun to play in front of all them.”
Northcut had a short turnaround before heading off to the next event.
“I flew straight from Tampa to Long Beach, California for ‘Area Codes,’ which is all New Balance,” Northcut said. “I had a fun time out there because you get East Coast Pro which is all for the east coast kids and Area Codes is more for the whole country, so you got to play a bunch of your west coast friends that you grew up playing against at bigger tournaments.”
Next up was the Perfect Game All-American game at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. Although Perfect Game is one of the biggest and most respected scouting services in the country, Northcut said the most rewarding part of his trip wasn not the actual game but when the ballplayers visited Rady’s Children’s Hospital, a local hospital with a large number of young cancer patients.
“It was unbelievable getting to spend the day with those kids and get to see what their lives are like,” Northcut said. “None of us have a clue of what they go through on a day-to-day basis and just getting a little taste of it is very humbling. It was eye-opening when they told us the amount of patients that go there in a year can fill Petco Park like three times. And when we got to Petco Park for the first time, we all just looked around and were just amazed and our hearts just felt sad. We really cherished that time spending with them.”
The final event on the summer calendar was the Rivalry Classic, a two game series in which players have the experience of playing a game in Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, and then playing a game in Yankee stadium. Northcut, who hit three home runs in the Yankee stadium game, said it was a dream come true to be in the iconic ballparks.
“It’s pretty insane,” Northcut said. “It’s something you dream about as a kid, and you sit at home and think, ‘Man, I wanna do that someday’ as you watch them on TV. Actually getting to go out and do it is a whole other experience. Plus you’re in two historical ballparks, so when you get to go into those stadiums, you get goosebumps.”
Unlike the National Basketball Association and National Football League, which have age restrictions before an athlete can enter into the professional draft, it is not rare for a Major League Baseball team to draft a player before they ever set foot on a college campus. Northcut, who is verbally committed to Vanderbilt, has had contact with MLB teams but says he is not too focused on the possibility of being drafted.
“I’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” Northcut said. “I don’t wanna look too far into it now. It’s something that will obviously end up taking care of itself, so whatever happens, happens.”
Mason head baseball coach Curt Bly said he and Northcut talk frequently about his future after high school.
“I’m always willing to offer him any assistance I can and advise when he seeks it out,” Bly said. “But, ultimately, whatever ends up happening in terms of the decision he’ll make about where he goes off to after he graduates is a decision for him, a decision for his family, and I see myself more as a supportive character in that story.”
Bly said there is no added pressure on the Comets this coming spring to do well because the program expects success.
“We expect to compete for championships every year,” Bly said. “That’s who we are as a program. We measure ourselves against our old success. We expect to win titles every year, so when you don’t, it’s a disappointment.”
Northcut said his primary focus is to help the Mason Comets achieve success.
“We got a big season coming ahead in Mason, and hopefully, we can get the job done this year and get a ring,” Northcut said. “That’s the biggest thing right now that I want do.”