By Mike London
WOODLEAF – East Rowan senior John Dale Basinger Jr., a devastating right-handed pitcher who responds to “JD”, has committed to Catawba’s baseball program.
Three members of the Mustang’s powerful pitching staff – senior Jake Hunter (East Carolina), junior Cameron Padgett (UNC) and sophomore Chance Mako (NC State) – have already committed to Division I programs. Basinger, who is 5 feet 10, 140 pounds, does not have the projected roof of the three because his body is not that big and his fastball is not so fast, but he sends discouraged hitters back to the excavation only so often.
“My size always seemed to be an issue with DI programs,” Basinger said. “But I’m very excited about Catawba. If I had attended a DI program, I probably would not have had the chance to pitch until I was a junior. I will have the opportunity to earn innings as a freshman at Catawba. It meant a lot. I will be able to shed four years. ”
Basinger’s father, John, a former thrower who threw evil breaking things back in the late 1980s, passed many of the tricks of the trade on to his son. He graduated from Salisbury High and Catawba.
“I was recruited by some other schools, but Catawba is less than 30 minutes away, my dad went there, and they have one of the best D-II programs anywhere,” Basinger said. “I made a baseball visit in addition to an academic visit there, and I have been accepted. There was just no reason to say no to Catawba. ”
Basings have not found a place in high school as often as a player with his ability and results would normally have done.
He spent his freshman season mostly on the Jayves, but he made a few appearances and went 1-0.
As a sophomore, he was the East’s No. 2 guy behind Hunter. He went 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA and got 40 strikes in 27 innings.
His junior season would probably have been a breakout for him. He started 2-0 when the Eastern season was stopped by COVID-19 after six games.
Now the senior season is expected to be a short, 14-match affair, starting in April. He will share rounds with three flamethrowers, and with several more promising throwers waiting for the chance if someone falters.
“With the staff we have, if you want to look up, you have to look up very well,” Basinger said.
East Rowan coach Brett Hatley is in no doubt that Basinger will be a handful of hitters.
“He has some of the best groundbreaking courses I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Hatley said. “There are late things that fall sharply the last 15 feet or so. Most hitters swing and miss over the top. ”
Hatley says “to break pitches” – plural – because Basinger throws three different ones. There is a basket ball, a slider and a cutter that dives towards a left hitter. It is an unusually advanced arsenal for a 17-year-old.
“I’m going to tell you a Basinger story,” Hatley said. “It was a game where he had a guy 0 and 2 and shook off about five characters in a row. I went out there and asked him if our catcher had to take off his mitt and start giving signs with both hands. It was like, ‘Come on JD, how many seats do you have?’ “
While Basinger does not have the 90-year-old fastball to his teammates, he was clocked as high as 87 km / h this summer. He’s more of a guy in the ’80s most of the time, but with the diversity of places he throws, that’s enough. He can see fast balls outside the corner, but he is also not afraid to attack hitters inside.
“He’s working on breaking the lanes, and they’re so good that they make the fastball look a lot faster,” Hatley said. “He’s hard to beat.”
Basinger is a bulldog. He has the mentality of a guy who can throw 99. He gained tremendous confidence with a strong summer with the South Charlotte Panthers showcase team. He threw strings of pointless innings for the Panthers and logged impressive strike totals. He knocked out nine hits in four rounds against elite competition.
“We met some of the best guys in the country in the 2021 class,” said Basinger. “It makes you tougher mentally. It did not matter who we met, I went out to the mound with the idea that I could throw the ball past anyone. ”
Basinger supported his outstanding work with the Panthers by helping the East manage the local fall league. The two teams that reached the championship match were East 1 and East 2.
Catawba coaches saw him throw himself into the autumn league and knew he was a guy they wanted.
Like their other boxes, Basinger will be expected to help East score some races this spring, as well as prevent them. He is an average high school hitter, but he is a well above average high school outfielder. He can drive balls down.
Catawba does not need him to strike or strike in the field. The Indians want to let him focus on the mound. Catawba head coach Jim Gantt has never been worried about how tall the guys are or how much they weigh or what the radar gun says. If you can get hitters out, you can get them out. Basings should find a role.
“Recruiting college baseball is very tough right now, and it’s very different,” Hatley said. “Many seniors spend the extra year of (COVID-19) qualifying at schools like Catawba. There are not many list places available, and there is not much scholarship money to spend. I’m glad JD was able to commit. ”
With Catawba’s weightlifting program, Basinger will not stay at 140 pounds for very long. And as one of the coaches who tried to recruit Basinger told him, 20 kilos could mean another 5 km / h speed.
The gift to Basinger, a solid student who will probably take a master’s degree in computer science, looks good.
The future may be something special.