After making a verbal commitment to SEC power Vanderbilt University last December, some four months before the start of his junior season, there was some hype and high expectations surrounding righthander Adam Ravenelle and his low-90's fastball this past spring at Lincoln-Sudbury High. For the most part, he lived up to the billing, going 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA and combining with Matt McGavick for a no-hitter on May 7. That aided another strong L-S campaign; the Warriors finished 20-3, won their 10th straight Dual County League title and advanced to the Division 1 North semifinals before getting bounced by Lawrence.
The 6-foot-3 Ravenelle has continued that good work this summer, most recently dazzling scouts with the New England Ruffnecks down at last month's World Woodbat Association National Championships in East Cobb, Ga. His next stop is Long Beach, Calif., for this weekend's Area Code Games. Ravenelle sat down with ESPNBoston last week, following a workout at Cressey Performance in Hudson, to talk about his stuff, his toughest opponent, and the good part about committing early.
Q: What kind of goals did you set for yourself headed into the spring and summer seasons?
A: "Basically team goals, just to help my team as much as I could towards a winning season and a state championship. Me and a couple of the other guys on the team actually...coach (Kirk) Fredericks asked us at the beginning of the season, what are our team goals and what are our individual goals. For both of them, we just wrote 'State Championship'. We've basically achieved everything. We've won the DCL, we've played pretty well each year, but that's the one thing our team hasn't gotten together yet, so that was our big thing. Individually, I just wanted to pitch as well as I could, get people out and maybe throw a no-hitter."
Q: What were you looking to improve upon specifically?
A: "Accuracy. Less walks. That's basically always been my achilles heel. I worked with our pitching coach, Matt Blake, on that alot, with fine-tuning my mechanics and stuff like that. So that was one of my big things, repeating my delivery and all that."
Q: What was it like handling the competition at the WWBA, considering you don't see as big a quantity of talent in the northeast?
A: "It was definitely a big jump, but they kind of prepare you for it. Playing the best competition around here gets you prepared for going down there. Even though it is a huge jump from the northeast to the south, with all those great Georgia teams...it was an eye-opener, because I had to focus more on my pitches instead of just trying to throw it as hard as I could. It's alot more about smarts of the game than just raw talent."
Q: Headed into your senior season, what still needs improvement?
A: "I think just consistency. Like, with my starts, they were pretty inconsistent this year. One day, I'd have a great start, and then I'd come back and follow up with a mediocre one."
Q: When it comes to how quickly you work on the mound, are you more of a Mark Buehrle or a Dice-K?
A: "I'd say more of a Dice-K (laughs). He works alot of counts, gets 3-2 counts, and that's basically what I do. I'll get ahead 0-2, and then locate three pitches exactly where I want it, but they'll miss in the strike zone, and then it'll work back to 3-2, and I have to find a way to get out on a 3-2 count with the guy looking for dead fastball. But that's also something I'm trying to get out of my repertoire, because it works alot of high pitch counts."
Q: What do you recommend doing to stay fresh in between starts?
A: "I think the best thing after starts is to get a workout in -- either upper body, lower body or both -- and then just continue stretching, before and after starts, along with tubing (a.k.a. bandwork)."
Q: Who is the toughest batter you've faced?
A: "That's a tough question...I'd probably say...Dante Bichette, Jr., at the USA Tournament of Stars (last month in Cary, N.C.). I don't know where he plays, all I know is that he's the biggest guy I've ever seen (laughs). He just smacked all my pitches right to the backstop, so I didn't even know what to throw him. But then I ended up walking him."
Q: The NCAA may implement a rule that forbids scholarship offers before the summer after one's junior season. As someone who committed early (last December), what was it like to essentially know early-on where you stood with coaches?
A: "It was definitely a weight off my shoulders, because the process in the fall of trying to eliminate colleges, trying to pick the best fit for me, was just taking up my whole life. I had incredible anxiety the whole time. When I got that done, it was like a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I could focus on baseball, school, and having fun.
"It could go both ways. You can also have a really good junior season and see all those offers increase, or have a really bad junior season and see those decrease. I personally liked committing early, because I knew what was going to happen this year, next year, having all that basically down. But some kids might not like that as much -- they like living on the edge (laughs)."