USA Baseball is one of the most competitive programs in the country, and USF pitcher Jimmy Herget was one of 29 players invited to the training complex in Cary, North Carolina for a tryout.
USA Baseball scouts noticed Herget when he pitched for USF against Louisville and in the final regular season series against Georgia Tech. In these two starts, he combined for 15 1/3 innings during which he allowed two runs.
“It was an experience that we didn’t expect, but we’re very appreciative of,” Herget’s mother, Lisa, said. “Just knowing that he was out there with the top players in the United States made (his father and I) very proud.”
Though Herget didn’t make the 24-man roster, announced Monday, he said he is thankful for the opportunity to have put on a Team USA jersey. Unlike his usual performance with the Bulls, Herget gave up seven runs (six earned) on five hits in three innings during the Team USA exhibition games.
“It basically prepared me for what minor league baseball is going to be like,” Herget said. “I was in a different hotel every night. My last three days, I was in seven states.”
The level of competition was also different for the right-hander.
“Those guys are straight studs,” Herget said. “Everyone out of the pen threw over 90. All of the relievers threw 93. One kid hit 99. The hitters, every ball they hit, they hit hard. It was like there was no messing up.”
Herget, who has returned to Massachusetts to pitch in the Cape Cod League for the summer, wrapped up his sophomore season at USF in May. He finished with a 1.26 ERA through 107 1/3 innings with 27 walks and 90 strikeouts.
In addition to his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup, Herget’s personality has helped him excel in America’s pastime. According to his father, Eric, Herget may not be the biggest athlete at 165 pounds, but he has the most heart.
“He does what he’s told, never talks back and just does what he needs to do,” Eric said. “He’s very coachable, he loves the game, he listens to what the coach has to say, and he goes out there and gives it 110 percent.”
Herget’s passion for the sport stems from his father, who grew up playing baseball in the streets of Baltimore.
“Everybody got out, everybody had a ball, everybody had a bat,” Eric said, remembering his childhood in Charm City. “It was just the way of life. If you didn’t like baseball there was something wrong with you. When I had my son, whether he liked it or not, he was at least going to try it. Fortunately for me, he loves it. As of now, he’s had a 16-year career of playing baseball, and it’s paid off quite well for him.”
In his junior year of high school, Herget started receiving letters from universities. He garnered 12 Division I offers and eight Division II offers, but it was an offer from former USF coach Lelo Prado that stood out to the Herget family.
“We never really paid too much attention to going to USF, but after we left the meeting (with Prado), we felt really good,” Eric said. “Prado was the only manager that ever talked about school and education … the reason why Jimmy is there is because of that coach. He was the most understanding, well-spoken guy. He gave my son a chance as a freshman. He gave him a chance against FSU, and Jimmy performed well and became a Friday-night starter, and I owe it all to the coaching staff.”
Herget, now coached by Mark Kingston, will not have another shot at trying out for Team USA, but he will still have two years of eligibility to become drafted by an MLB team.