For many high school baseball players, the recruitment process is long and arduous, structured around showcases and skills camps that stretch from summer to fall to winter across multiple years.
Gaithersburg right-hander Nick Pantos sought to shorten that process. So when the rising junior received one of his first official offers from Maryland, his home school and dream destination, he decided to move quickly, orally committing to the Terps last week.
“Now we’re kind of done with the whole showcase scene. I’ll still be playing in showcases, but I won’t be trying to throw to impress coaches,” said Pantos, who also visited Richmond. “Doing this now kind of gave me a chance to have the whole next two years to be able to work and get my game better and work to be as good as I can.”
Pantos is the second rising junior at Gaithersburg to commit to an area Division I team, joining left-hander Anthony Felitti, who committed to Virginia in May. Both likely would have accrued more offers over a longer period of time but found a good fit early in the process.
“I think that it adds confidence,” Pantos said. “For me and Anthony, kind of being done with all of that, it’s now time to work and get better. We can focus more on going out and winning games in the spring season.”
Pantos picked Maryland in part because of the Terrapins’ success last season, when they eliminated South Carolina and reached the NCAA super regionals before losing to Virginia. He also said he wanted to stay close to his family, friends and Gaithersburg Coach Jeff Rabberman.
Shipley Field, Maryland’s home, is just 23 miles from Kelley Park, where the Trojans played their home games last year.
“I’ve grown up in Maryland my whole life. The college baseball that I’ve watched has been the University of Maryland,” Pantos said. “It’s my home school. I get to stay close to home and have my family close, have the support from all my coaches.”
Often overshadowed by second-team All-Met selection Nick DeCarlo and other older players, Pantos quietly developed into a shutdown reliever last season. In 23 1/3 innings, most of which came in relief, he allowed just two earned runs and 11 hits to finish with a team-best 0.60 ERA. He also notched three saves as the Trojans (20-3) reached the Maryland 4A semifinals.
Pantos also plays second base but plans to pitch in college. A lanky right-hander, he hit 89 mph at a showcase in Virginia earlier this month and said he would like to focus on his delivery over the second half of his high-school career.
“I’m going to work on everything,” he said. “But more specifically, I want to work on my mechanics so that I can be sure that I’m doing the same thing, repeating the same thing, every time, being as consistent as I can be and also throwing as hard and most effectively as I can.”
Related: Baseball Recruit Watch