With a hat too big for his head and gray pants scrunched up at the waist, it would be difficult for someone to recognize junior Austin Amaral standing at a 6’0 frame, looking much different from his little league days.
“The earliest memory I have [playing baseball] is when a coach from one of my teams first taught me how to pitch,” Amaral said. “He told me when my arm comes back to make it look like a cobra getting ready to strike,”
Growing up, Amaral was never the biggest, strongest, or fastest player on the field, “just a kid having fun with the sport.”
Amaral blossomed this past summer, where the speed of his fastball improved immensely, and his velocity peaked at 89mph.
“At a Perfect Game event, apparently there was a foul ball that got hit, and [the radar gun] got the foul ball instead of the pitch, so the website said I threw 91[mph], but it got taken down,” Amaral said.
While he has yet to throw a pitch at 90mph, Amaral saw it as a barrier he would eventually overcome.
“It’s annoying [not hitting 90mph yet] because it’s consistently 89, but maybe this year, we’ll see,” Amaral said. “It’s on my nerves, definitely.”
Through his hard work and dedication over the summer, Amaral was able to commit to play baseball for his dream school, Stetson University, and credited local coach Michael Main for much of his growth as a player.
“I got involved with Michael Main through travel ball,” Amaral said. “I tried out for his team [the summer after freshman year], stayed on his team for the summer, and he’s a great guy. The team wasn’t the best, but we had good coaches and all of the players were really nice.”
Over that summer with Main Baseball Academy, Amaral began his transition into a full-time pitcher.
“Back then, I was more focused on catching,” Amaral said. “But I think I knew even back then that I was better at pitching than catching, and then I went to Power Baseball, and that really got me involved in pitching.”
Amaral played with Power Baseball throughout last summer, and they played a vital role in his recruitment and commitment process. Their coaches had connections at many colleges, and their program allowed Amaral to compete against top tier talent across Florida.
“I suggested to Austin that he should join Power because it would give him better exposure with big colleges,” junior William Quinones said.
Amaral’s time with Power allowed him to commit to his number one choice Division I school in Stetson University.
“Stetson has a great pitching staff, they helped Jacob DeGrom go to the Majors, and I’ve been to a bunch of their games before this,” Amaral said. “It was a very early offer; I was in touch with a lot of other colleges, and Stetson’s offer really stuck out to me.”
While he ended up committing to Stetson, other schools were in the mix to sign the hard-throwing righthander.
“The toughest decision was probably between UNF and Stetson,” Amaral said. “I saw UNF’s campus, their baseball program was great, but Stetson was my top priority, and I knew that if they offered, that I was gonna take it.”
Amaral kept in contact with schools, until he got the call that changed his life forever.
“Towards the end of the [summer] season, one of their coaches, coach Therneau, asked me to call him, and I spoke to him for about 10 minutes,” Amaral said. “The next day, he was there at a game I was pitching, and after the game, he told me to call him later that night. It really wasn’t expected, because I had barely talked to these guys, I mean, this was the college that I had the least amount of talking time to, and they talked to me about offers, and they told me they were willing to offer me a scholarship, and it was awesome, because that’s it, that’s my dream college.”
While many students try their hardest to get away from their parents in college, Amaral decided to stay close to home while he furthered his academic and baseball career.
“Stetson’s location is great,” Amaral said. “I get to see the family, my friends, and they don’t really have to go that far to see me. I know my grandfather really wanted to see me play in college, so he hardly has to travel at all to see me play.”
Despite achieving his goal of signing with a Division I program, Amaral knew there was a lot he had to work on.
“A big thing for me to work on is my changeup, some are good, some they crank to the fence,” Amaral said. “I want to hit 90, we’ll see how that goes, and to get more out of my lower half.“
While he accomplished the first part of his dream, Amaral knew that he had to continue to work hard if he wanted to reach his goals.
“I want to go to the pros someday, that dream has never really stopped, and hopefully this will help me get there,” Amaral said.