MOVING ON UP

Former T-birds southpaw Jaedyn Eastman delivers a pitch against Prescott at Mohave High School on April 15. 

BULLHEAD CITY — Mohave High School T-birds graduating senior Jaedyn Eastman moved 160 miles west of Bullhead City on Thursday to attend classes at Barstow Community College where he will be playing baseball for the Vikings in the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association.

Eastman, who was a four-year varsity starter for the T-birds, appreciates the opportunity to hurl for the Vikings.

“It’s shocking that I could be wanted by a whole team just to go and pitch for them,” Eastman said. “It’s exciting and helps me get in the right mindset.” 

When he was told that the Vikings compete in one of the better junior college conferences in the country, Eastman said: “They must believe I’m good enough to play for them so I know I can do it.”

The Vikings’ coaching staff believes in Eastman — that’s for sure.

“We’re excited about him,” said Vikings head coach Ricky Walker about Eastman. “All of the makings of something special is there.”

Walker said he and his coaching staff, which included pitching coach Austin Crank, knew Eastman had the tools when they first saw him pitch.

“We first saw Jaedyn on a recruiting website,” Walker said. “Coach Crank was very impressed by what he saw and started following up by making phone calls to a local scout that knew of Jaedyn. 

“The scout spoke very highly of Jaedyn, and we knew he was a guy we wanted to pursue to have here in Barstow.”

Eastman complimented Coach Walker. 

“He’s a great guy,” said the former Mohave left-handed pitcher. “When we first spoke on the phone, I was at basketball practice so I couldn’t talk long. 

“But he just told me what a huge help to the team (I) would be and how coming there could really show me how next level baseball is a huge change.

“Like I said before, he welcomes you with open arms and make you feel at ease about moving to Barstow. We talk often about baseball and how if (I) change a few things, I can throw harder and that it won’t be easy. But if I give it all I have, then it may be very rewarding.”

Rewarding indeed.

“We saw a loose arm with smooth mechanics and pitch ability with an upside that is as high as we have seen (in) a long time,” said the six-year          Barstow head coach. “We knew he wasn’t even close to touching his ceiling and that he could not only be a great college pitcher, but possibly pro.”

Walker said his Vikings will start the fall season with six left-handed pitchers on their staff, as he continued to touch on Eastman’s potential.

“I believe that Jaedyn has what it takes to be one of the premier pitchers in all college baseball,” Walker said. “We expect him to come in and make an impact right away,  work hard, do things right and watch him grow into the player that he will become.”

Confidence appears not to be an issue for Eastman.

“I learned that you should never back down,” Eastman said. “If the best batter in the conference is up to hit, just do what you know best. 

“If that kid sees the fear, it’s an upperhand for him. Keep your head up because even the best hitter will go back to the dugout (seven) times (out of 10).”

Eastman transformed his lower body by working his legs in the weight room during his junior and senior seasons.

The incoming freshman said his senior season at Mohave was his best on and off field. 

“On the mound I got to use my knuckle ball a lot more — (throwing) almost one every game — which isn’t a lot, but compared to past years (it was). 

“It was a huge confidence booster and I want to keep developing it until I can throw it whenever I want.”

Eastman’s new pitching coach has sized up the power of his new left-   hander’s legs.

“I was really impressed with his work ethic and the way he takes care of his body,” said Crank, who also serves as Barstow’s strength and conditioning coach. “It is evident in his size and strength of his legs and core.

“But as a pitching and strength and conditioning coach, I believe there is more. 

“There is more strength, flexibility and athleticism to gain, and I am excited to help him achieve that.”

T-birds 2018 head coach Les Eastman, who was a Mohave assistant coach from 2015-17, considers Barstow the perfect fit for his son.

“We were pretty excited the coaches seemed genuinely interested in his education, which is more important to me,” said Eastman, who is an educator himself. “But the fact that all his hard work on the field helped to make his dream come true was a big deal.

“The fact that I will be able to see him play due to his being close is great, too.”

Coach Eastman said his son began to play baseball early in his life. 

“Jaedyn was very young when he expressed an interest in baseball,” he added. “He was 4 when he started to play, I believe it was around junior high age when he started thinking he really wanted to play beyond high school.”  

Coach Eastman said he played at North Central Ohio at a very small high school before attending Capital University to continue playing ball. From there he transferred to Ashland University. 

“I was a right-handed pitcher for both schools and then played a little in the minors until I had an arm injury that ended my playing days,” he added.

Coach Eastman said Barstow expressed an interest in his son during his junior year. 

“He was not sure, yet, what his plans were,” Coach Eastman said. “We visited Barstow during his senior year and he made his decision about a week after the visit.

“They first made contact with me through the website, FieldLevel,” Coach Eastman said. “It is a coaching and recruiting website. I am not sure if they ever actually came to watch him or just watched his videos.”

Coach Eastman said his son’s fastball was clocked at 86 mph when he signed his letter of intent in late February.

“I do not recall getting a chance to radar him during his senior season, but I know at the game against River Valley — at their place — he was throwing harder than I have ever seen him throw before,” Coach Eastman said. “During his senior year, Jaedyn learned to use other pitches besides his fastball to set hitters up. 

“Our big focus was, really, on control and hitting spots. 

“He did get better through the year, but still has times where he struggles with control.

“Hopefully, at the next level, they will be able to get that more consistent look that will be required to continue to play the game at a higher level.”

Mom, Stephanie Eastman, who teaches at Mohave High School; and Les Eastman, who is the assistant principal at Fox Creek Junior High School; made a a positive impression on Walker when they visited the Barstow campus.

“I was really encouraged the first time I          met Jaedyn,” Walker said. “He was very respectful and honest about his    passion for the game and his goals. 

“His parents were very supportive and I could tell he came from a great background of a loving and caring family that wanted the best for him. 

“I knew he would be a guy that would fit right and do great things.”

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