There are plenty of reasons to think that junior Zach Minnick is rapidly approaching legendary status in the annals of Logan High School baseball.
As coach Roger Gertz embarks on his 36th season as the Wildcats’ head coach, he realizes the sky’s the limit for his best player.
“I think he was the best freshman we’ve ever had here,” said Gertz, who has a 761-320 career record after a season-opening loss to Lawrence County, Ky. on Saturday. “Kevin Bates was unbelievable too.
“(Zach) was probably as talented or more talented than anyone we’ve ever had.”
Those are strong words from a member of the West Virginia Baseball Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame, but Minnick continually proves himself on Middleburg Island.
As a sophomore, he batted .535 with six home runs and 39 RBI. He led the team in both categories, as well as total bases (82), runs (30), doubles (11), triples (3) and stolen bases (11-14).
That’s not all.
“I hit around .380 my freshman year, I hit .500 last year, maybe .600 or .700 this year,” Minnick said. “You have to set high goals.”
The work off the diamond is already taking shape.
Minnick hung up basketball to focus on baseball, and after reaching 238 pounds on the scale due in part to a wrist injury, he went to work.
Focusing solely on lifting weights for his most beloved sport, the 6-foot Minnick is down to 205.
“I dropped 33 pounds,” he said. “I think what the problem was at the end of fall I hurt my wrist a little bit, and I had to take about five or six weeks off and I put on some weight. It was pretty easy to drop it once I got healthy. I feel like I’m in a lot better shape which will help me later in the sectionals and regionals.”
The junior didn’t pitch in the Lawrence County game because, as Gertz puts it, the team is better with Minnick behind the plate.
Minnick, much like former Logan star and 2006 state player of the year Bo Darby, can impact the game as a shortstop, pitcher or catcher.
He finished the 2013 season with a 7-2 record and led the team in strikeouts (53) in 51 innings. His 1.38 earned run average was second among Logan pitchers with at least seven innings.
“I think he’s just tapping into his potential,” Gertz said. “What’s so good about him is he works at this year around. He wants to go somewhere.
“In a high school game, he’s unreal on the mound. He can be a dominating-type pitcher in this state. His best position is behind the plate. I think, honestly, he can help us as much at short as anyplace. We have a good (shortstop) in Chase Preston too. Zach played short as a freshman, had a lot of errors and wasn’t comfortable. He wanted to be behind the plate. When we put him behind the plate, he can make you think twice about running.”
Minnick said he “respects” everything Gertz says about the game, so it’s easy to guess what position he likes the most.
“Catcher,” he said. “I feel like I can help out behind the plate more than I can on the mound. When runners get on base, I can dictate whether they get the next bag or not. It’s up to me. I’ll have a chance to throw them out. When someone tries to steal, the adrenaline is pumping. It’s pretty fun.”
The ultimate goal is the Major Leagues and, prior to his junior season, he’s received interest from Kentucky and Coastal Carolina and has been placed on South Carolina’s watch list.
He’ll spend this summer playing for the B2B Bombers, based in Manheim, Pa. — a suburb of Harrisburg.
The interest will likely spike since his move from the Beckley-based W.Va. Miners to the Bombers will open traveling opportunities he didn’t otherwise have, like competition in Florida, Georgia and New Jersey.
“(Playing in the Majors) is everybody’s goal who plays baseball,” Minnick said. “My work ethic will get me where I want to go. I believe what is on the back of our shirts we had in Beckley, it says ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get.’”
If that’s true, Minnick could be the luckiest player around.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail