Jack Keele is spending his summer pursuing one goal. The local flame thrower wants to be on the baseball diamond for a long time.
Keele, 17, has been on the mound for two different travel teams this summer, with the hope his talent will be noticed by college scouts. It’s his dream to suit up in college and the chances of it happening seem to be trending in the right direction.
“I started playing when I was 4 so I’ve been playing for about 14 years,” said Keele, who will turn 18 later this month. “I always said as a kid I wanted to play at the next level, but it wasn’t until I was 16 I actually wanted to pursue it without a doubt.”
The talent is easy to spot. The 6-foot-2 righty sports a fastball which has been pushing toward 90 mph this spring and summer. He also has a slider, curveball and changeup in his arsenal, but the fastball is his most trusted.
“The fastball is usually my favorite. Usually I get ahead with the fastball then work in sliders and changeups for strikeouts,’” said Keele.
His command was on full display recently in the 2019 WWBA National Championship in Cartersville, Ga. Keele played with Showcase Elite, getting a chance to take the mound twice. In 10 innings, Keele allowed just two runs while striking out 12.
“It’s probably (one of) the biggest tournaments in the country. There were over 350 teams in it,” said Keele.
Keele's exploits this summer were recently honored when he was named to the WWBA Perfect Game all-tournament team.
Along with Showcase Elite, Keele also suits up with Blueprint Baseball throughout the summer. He’s been on the top travel squad for several years, helping the team win a National Championship in Florida last summer.
Josh Renick, MTSU Hall of Famer who coached Keele on Blueprint, loved handing the ball over to his talented hurler.
“He’s a 100 percent competitor who thrives in the big moment,” said Renick. “He wants to will his team to win. He’s so competitive.
“He has great mound presence, really good stuff and an understanding of how to pitch. His mentality is to compete on every pitch and go right after you.”
Renick is no stranger to seeing his former pupils sign scholarships. Brooks Helton, Ethan Smith and Will Cantrell – three WCHS signees from last season – all played Blueprint baseball and credited it for helping them find college homes.
Renick knew from the time Keele showed up at 15 years old he could be the next guy.
“The sky is the limit for Jack. He’s going to have to keep working and keep improving, but he’s gotten better and better. We saw it at an early age – the competiveness and athleticism. He’s grown into a dominant pitcher,” said Renick.
Keele sharpens his talents with training four times a week, throwing three times a week and playing on the weekends. Keele’s schedule this summer includes at least six tournaments, all which give him a chance to impress in front of a gathering of college scouts.
One school has already made an offer, but Keele hopes more will come calling soon. He’s already visited Wake Forest and the state college of Florida, schools he has interest in as he pursues a scholarship.
He’ll have all summer to get on the college radar. Like his ever-improving fastball, Keele’s stock seems to keep rising.