After his junior season at Auburn Mountainview High School, pitcher Nate Weeldreyer knew he wanted to take his game to the next level.
So he started working with a personal trainer in Bellevue to add more strength and explosiveness during the offseason. When he showed up this spring, he had added about 25 added pounds of muscle.
“It made a huge impact,” Weeldreyer said.
The added size translated to increased velocity for Weeldreyer and allowed him to throw consistently harder longer.
“I thought I was doing everything right,” Weeldreyer said. “Little did I know, we changed pretty much everything I was doing. After I switched (my workouts), I felt physically stronger, looked stronger and I was performing better. It made a big impact.”
With more muscle and confidence, Weeldreyer’s senior season was his best yet and earned him The News Tribune’s 2019 All-Area baseball player of the year honor. He posted a 6-2 record with a 0.54 earned run average in 51.2 innings, striking out 97 batters and walking 12. On the entire season, he only allowed four earned runs. He tossed two no-hitters, including a 19-strikeout effort against Auburn Riverside.
“The offseason work he put in was big,” said Auburn Mountainview coach Glen Walker. “He worked tirelessly. … And on the mental side, we pushed him pretty hard to get through his comfort zone, fight through struggles. When things weren’t going his way, how to get another gear, take it to another level.”
That meant when someone on his team made an error, Weeldreyer worked to move on and encourage his teammates instead of letting his frustration get the better of him.
“Just taking anything that could be a negative and turning it into a positive,” Weeldreyer said. “If I can help bring my teammates up and make a positive impact on them, I felt like I did a really good job of that this year.”
Weeldreyer’s low 90s fastball, curveball and slider were all his pitches he could blow by batters this season. Perhaps more importantly, he could throw all three pitches consistently for strikes.
“The most impressive stat to me is the (12) walks,” Walker said. “You had to earn your way on against him, it didn’t matter what the count was. He was battling till the end. He’s just got great stuff. When you throw upper 80s to low 90s and have three quality pitches you can throw for strikes, you’re going to be pretty good.”
At the plate, Weeldreyer hit .348 with a triple, five doubles and 10 RBI. But Weeldreyer knows his future is as a pitcher. Originally a Purdue signee, Weeldreyer re-opened his commitment after pitching coach Elliott Cribby left Purdue to take a job on the University of Washington staff.
Now there’s a chance Weeldreyer could stay home at play for the Huskies. He’s also talking with the University of Oregon.
“UW is definitely a frontrunner,” Weeldreyer said. “All along, I’ve never really wanted to leave home. I love the Seattle area and just how beautiful it is. If I decide to play in the Pac-12, it’s a very competitive level of hitters. I want to be able to be the guy who’s dominant on the mound, blowing the ball past guys. … I want to get my game to that next level, where it’s beyond Division I level — I want to be too good for college baseball.”
Weeldreyer was drawing some interest from MLB teams in the 2019 draft — the Phillies had contacted his agent — but ultimately, Weeldreyer decided to go the college route and hopefully turn himself into a first-round draft pick down the line.
“What they wanted to offer just didn’t suit me, for what I wanted,” Weeldreyer said. “I’m totally happy with not being drafted. I value college a lot and my plan for the future is to be a college coach one day. I need an education for that. … I know I have three more years to work hard and have an even bigger opportunity.”
Walker, his coach, certainly won’t bet against him.
“I like his chances,” Walker said. “He continues to work on the mental side of it. He’s a student of the game and works hard at baseball. He loves the game and that’s his dream. He’s shown his ability to set goals and work toward those goals and accomplish them. Given that, I think he has a really good chance.”