Michael Gretler grew up dreaming about playing for the Boston Red Sox. He never guessed he would get a chance to set foot on the field of Fenway Park while he was still in high school.
Shortly into his senior year at Bonney Lake High School, Gretler received an invitation to a workout in Boston. He flew there in October, shortly after the Red Sox won the World Series.
“That was one of the best experiences I have ever had,” he said. “It was unbelievable.
“You walk in and just feel the history.”
Not only did Gretler get to work out in the famed stadium, but he got to hold the team’s championship trophies, including the one they won in 2013.
“It’s something you dream about as a little kid, to be able to hold that trophy up,” he said. “I was very humbled.”
As one of the area’s top baseball players, Gretler might one day get to hoist a World Series trophy that he helped win. Gretler said he has spoken with a couple of major league teams about June’s draft, but that his focus is enjoying his final year with the Panthers.
“If the opportunity presents itself, and it’s the right time, then
I’m ready,” he said. “But I want to get this season going and play with my friends one more time before going off to college.”
Gretler, a shortstop who has signed with Oregon State University, was a 3A South Puget Sound League first-team selection and second-team all-state selection last year after batting .395 with 11 doubles and 27 RBIs.
Bonney Lake coach Mike Olson said Gretler’s versatility is a primary reason why he was in contention for league MVP the past two seasons.
“There’s really nothing he can’t do on the field,” he said. “He hits, he throws, he’s a leader. The sky’s the limit for this kid.”
Gretler said he always had an interest in attending Oregon State, but watching the Beavers win the 2006 and 2007 College World Series sealed the deal.
“They have great coaches,” he said. “They make you a better player and a better person.”
Gretler’s love of baseball began at age 3, and he started out playing catcher. In middle school, he switched to shortstop, which he said gave him the opportunity to showcase his leadership skills. He is a three-time captain for Bonney Lake.
He also loves baseball’s competitive nature.
“You have to have strong teamwork and chemistry,” Gretler said. “But when it comes down to the actual game, it’s you versus the pitcher, and you versus the ground ball.”
Bonney Lake lost in the Class 3A regionals last year, the second-highest finish in school history. Gretler said this year’s team plans to build on that success.
“It’s going to be really competitive this year, but it doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” he said. “We have to go play the game we played in practice all week.”
Gretler played basketball his first two years at Bonney Lake but ultimately decided to focus on baseball year-round. He also plays for Chaffey Baseball, a premier summer league team.
But school comes first, he said. Gretler, an aspiring doctor or pharmacist, has a 3.98 grade-point average and particularly enjoys his Advanced Placement math and science classes.
“I think it has to do with ambition,” he said. “I’m really driven to succeed.”
Olson said Gretler is a “key cog” of his program because of his skills and intellect.
“He’s going to be missed,” he said. “He’s not the kind of kid that you build a team around. He’s the kind of kid you build a program around.”
PREP BASEBALL PRIMER
The only thing remaining for Puyallup High School is to capture that elusive Class 4A state title. The reigning South Puget Sound League champion has all the pieces — a deep everyday lineup, anchored by cleanup hitter Quinn Rawson, a New Mexico signee at first base; three ace-level starting pitchers in left-handers Luke Heimlich and Tyler McDowell, and right-hander Lane Griffin; and plenty of firepower in the bullpen. “Anything less than a state championship would be a disappointment,” coach Marc Wiese said. The Vikings enter 2014 ranked 24th by USA Today.
4A Narrows — South Kitsap. 4A SPSL South — Puyallup. 4A SPSL North — Kentridge. 3A Narrows — Timberline. 3A SPSL — Auburn Mountainview. 2A SPSL — Sumner. 2A Evergreen — W.F. West. 1A Nisqually — Cedar Park Christian.
PLAYER TO WATCH
He is a fireball right-handed pitcher for Puyallup with a wicked slider, but North Carolina commit Brendan Illies’ best position is catcher. Illies, the reigning SPSL South pitcher of the year and a News Tribune All-Area member last season, likely won’t be needed as much in the rotation. Heimlich pitched on the Vikings’ junior varsity last season and is now the varsity ace. That should open up more playing time for Illies, a junior, behind the plate, and also a new opportunity as the team’s closer when needed to pitch.
BEST OF the REST
4A SPSL — P/1B C.J. Blowers, Graham-Kapowsin, jr.; OF Lawyer Braun, Beamer, sr.; OF Darian Clemens, Puyallup, sr.; OF Brian Darby, Auburn Riverside, sr.; P Taylor Davis, Beamer, jr.; 1B Troy Johnston, Rogers, so.; P/SS Jordan Jones, Kentwood, so.; SS Levi Jordan, Puyallup, sr.; P Kade Kryzsko, Kentwood, sr.; 1B Quinn Rawson, Puyallup, sr.; P Alex Rivera, Graham-Kapowsin, jr.; P/OF Scott Sunitsch, Beamer, sr.; 1B Joe Wainhouse, Kentridge, sr.
4A Narrows — 3B Sterling Brown, Gig Harbor, sr.; C Matt Gunn, Stadium, sr.; C/1B Tyler Ludlow, South Kitsap, sr.; P Harry Stenberg, Bellarmine Prep, sr.; OF Brandon Thompson, Bellarmine Prep, sr.; P/1B Jacob Veith, Stadium, sr.
3A SPSL — P Chris Carns, Decatur, sr.; P/3B Joey Cassano, Auburn Mountainview, sr.; SS Tyler Friis, Auburn Mountainview, sr.; SS Michael Gretler, Bonney Lake, sr.; OF Jeffrey Morgan, Auburn Mountainview, jr.
3A Narrows — SS/OF Kasey Bailey, Mount Tahoma, sr.; C Brennon Kaleiwahea, Timberline, sr.; P/SS Matt Mercer, Timberline, jr.; P Ryan Mets, North Thurston, sr.; 2B Matt Stortini, Wilson, jr.
2A SPSL — OF Tysen Fischlin, Sumner, sr.; OF Jaden Hassell, Fife, so.; P Christian Parsons, Sumner, sr.; P/3B Zach Rohrbach, White River, sr.
2A Evergreen — C Tanner Gueller, W.F. West, sr.; P/OF Garrett Terrell, Tumwater, sr.
1A Nisqually — SS Jesse Bollen, Eatonville, sr.; P Trey Drechsel, Cedar Park Christian, sr.; P/C Michael Messer, Cascade Christian, so.