Nate Weeldreyer has always been talented. The Auburn Mountainview High School senior pitcher has always throw a bit harder than his peers. He’s always been a little bigger, a little better.
It seems this year, he’s on a different level altogether.
“He’s gotten tougher,” said Lions’ coach Glen Walker. “In the past, when he has struggled or when the team struggled, you could definitely see it. He’s gotten to a point where he’s a lot tougher on the hill, mentally. He’s decided that when he gets the game ball, that’s his game and he’s going to finish it.”
Walker calls it a “warrior mentality” that Weeldreyer has developed this year. The stats help paint a clearer picture.
Weeldreyer has thrown two no-hitters this season, the first in a 2-0 win against Auburn Riverside on March 19, in which he fanned 19 batters over seven innings. The second no-hitter came in a 5-inning effort against Thomas Jefferson on April 17 in an 11-0 win.
He has a 5-1 record on the season in 42.2 innings pitched and has a 0.49 earned run average, only giving up three earned runs all season, punching out 85 batters along the way, while walking 12.
That killer instinct is the result of Weeldreyer’s relentless work ethic in the offseason, working with a personal trainer to get more explosive, stronger and increase his velocity.
“I never got that serious about the gym until last August,” he said. “I thought I was working out really well, but it wasn’t really what the top athletes are doing. Once I changed that this summer, that’s when I started seeing a lot of change.”
His fastball is better than ever, currently sitting in the high 80s to low 90-mile per hour range, topping out at 95 mph this season. The 6-foot-1 pitcher has the sort of stuff that MLB scouts salivate over.
“He’s got a great frame, a lot of velocity on his arm,” Walker said. “What has kind of set him apart from the other guys is that he just works his tail off. He worked really hard in the offseason, got a personal trainer, spent a lot of time working with those guys, a lot of time taking care of his body and trying to prepare it for the grind of the season.”
While there are some high-level hitters in the NPSL 4A Olympic, like Federal Way’s Joshua Mears, there aren’t many players who can consistently keep up with Weeldreyer’s fastball.
There’s also a curveball in his arsenal and new this year, a slider. When it’s on, it could be Weeldreyer’s most dangerous pitch.
“It drops speed, it moves a lot and he can locate it really well,” said sophomore catcher Will Cresswell. “It makes it tough on hitters. He’ll come in with 95 and throw it past them, then locate a slider that looks the same but it’s 15 miles per hour slower. It’s tough to hit.”
He’s the indisputable star of the show for Auburn Mountainview, but Weeldreyer has never cared much about being the center of attention.
“He’s a great teammate,” Walker said. “He doesn’t talk about himself, doesn’t puff up his chest, doesn’t push guys around. ... A guy like that, a guy that has a lot of potential and scouts and all the things going his way, he could be a soloist. But he’s really worked to be a great teammate.”
Weeldreyer will have a decision to make soon, as there’s a good chance he’ll see his name called in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. But it’ll likely take something major to sway the Purdue signee from heading to Indiana to compete in the Big Ten conference.
“All options are open,” Weeldreyer said. “Right now, I’m full on with Purdue. Boiler up. We’ll see when the draft gets here.”
Walker, for what it’s worth, is advocating for the college route, but recognizes it’s ultimately Weeldreyer’s decision to make.
“I want to be ready,” Weeldreyer said. “I I want to feel like I’m ready to go to pro ball and have my family back me up, too. Just make sure whatever decision I make, that I’m 100 percent ready.”
Weeldreyer is part of an increasingly effective Purdue pipeline to the Pacific Northwest. Federal Way’s Joshua Mears and Bellarmine Prep pitcher Tommy Takayoshi are also signed with the Boilermakers. Credit Purdue pitching coach Elliott Cribby, who was formerly part of the Seattle University staff.
“I have a lot of trust in (Cribby) to develop me as a player,” Weeldreyer said. “Just the coaching at Purdue, the facilities, the education. It’s all just high end. When I went out there, I loved it.”