Jackson Baumeister is one of the top two-way players in the 2021 prep class. The prep right-handed pitcher and catcher from Jacksonville, Florida, has the attributes to thrive at either position and is a legitimate prospect at both positions.
Baumeister believes the skills he’s developed behind the plate have assisted him on the mound. He grew up playing catcher and then started pitching when he was 12 years old. Although he has the talent to do both positions, Baumeister possesses more upside on the mound.
Professional scouts will pay close attention to Baumeister this spring. He didn’t play during his junior season due to an MCL injury to his right knee and then struggled early on the showcase circuit last summer. He regained his pre-injury form and showed encouraging results throughout the fall.
His potential, especially on the mound, has caused scouts to project Baumeister as an early-round prospect for the 2021 MLB draft in July. He also is a two-way commit to Florida State.
“I am not getting my hopes up too high or too low,” said Baumeister on the draft. “I just want to keep an even mind about it. Whatever happens, happens. It has been a blessing to go through this process. A lot of kids play high school baseball and dream of being in the MLB. I am just so fortunate to be in this position.”
Baumeister enjoys the challenge and the opportunity to serve as a two-way player for The Bolles High School in Jacksonville. He hopes he can continue in that role for as long as possible but knows his future is on the mound, he said.
Baumeister is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-handed pitcher who is athletic on the mound, throws from a three-quarters arm slot, and has simple and repeatable mechanics.
He throws a four-seam fastball, 11-to-5 curveball, circle changeup and slider. His fastball sits in the low-90s and occasionally reaches 94 mph. He has notable arm strength and should increase his velocity as he continues to refine his skills and adds strength to his frame.
Baumeister’s curveball sits in the high-70s and serves as his top off-speed pitch. His changeup also flashes potential and features sharp downward movement. He describes his changeup as “one of my favorite pitches to throw,” he said.
His experience playing catcher has allowed him to understand sequencing and the overall attributes required to remain calm on the mound, even during difficult moments, he added.
“I would say my biggest strength is my composure on the mound,” Baumeister said. “I think I am one of the best in the country at keeping my emotions in check and never getting too high or too low on the mound, which is one of the most important aspects of the game.”
This offseason, Baumeister hopes to refine his slider in preparation for his senior season of high school baseball. He wants to develop a consistent feel for the pitch and believes consistently throwing his slider in catch play, and bullpen sessions will help him accomplish his goal.
He also wants to add additional strength to his frame and refine his control and command of his secondary pitches, he said.
“I want to improve on the command of my slider and to develop the sharpness with it,” Baumeister said. “It is a pitch in progress, but I definitely am making some big strides with it this offseason.”
As a catcher, Baumeister’s arm strength is his best attribute. He shows athleticism, quickness, and quality lateral movements behind the plate but needs to improve his overall receiving skills to stick at the position long-term. Offensively, the right-handed hitter drives the ball to the gaps and shows power potential at the plate.
Besides his status as a draft prospect, Baumeister also is an FSU commit as a two-way player. He attended a camp at FSU in the summer leading up to his freshman year of high school, and the FSU coaching staff offered him a scholarship on the spot. He committed instantly, as it’s a school that feels “like a second home” for him, he said.
“It was a super easy choice,” Baumeister said. “I have been a Florida State fan since I was born.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.