Coming out of high school, Perfect Game ranked Kyle Lovelace as the 16th-best prep catcher in the state of Texas. Four years after graduating from Hudson High in Texas, talent evaluators consider Lovelace as the best defensive catcher in college baseball.
“There’s always been a chip on my shoulder. I’ve always tried to outwork everybody,” said Lovelace on how the ranking has fueled him.
Lovelace is in his fourth season at the University of Houston. He isn’t the typical MLB draft prospect, as his offensive tool is arguable the weakest part of his game. He hit .200, .219 and .189 in his first three seasons at Houston.
Despite his lack of statistical success offensively, Lovelace has thrived defensively. He is known for his ability to handle a pitching staff. Lovelace caught former Houston pitchers Aaron Fletcher and John King, both who have made it to the major leagues.
Ryan Brauninger, one of Lovelace’s former summer league coaches, raves about Lovelace’s competitiveness and maturity. He recalls an interaction he had with the catcher one summer night.
“We were in a tight game one summer in Missouri, and (Lovelace) let a pitch, impossible to block, get by him to score a run,” Brauninger said. “I wrongly jumped on him in the dugout. He was pissed. Later that night, he and his dad thanked me for holding him to that kind of standard. Special kid.”
Lovelace remembers that interaction and admits the ball caught a piece of his right shin guard before getting away. He then mentioned something his father and grandfather instilled in him ever since he was young.
“There is never a pitch you can’t block,” Lovelace said. “There is no such thing as a passed ball.”
With Lovelace, there rarely ever is a passed ball. He takes pride in the work he has put into becoming one of college baseball’s top defensive backstops.
The mentality extends beyond the field. Lovelace is a Global Supply Chain and Logistics major. He wants to become a construction manager once his baseball career concludes.
Lovelace hopes that it isn’t for a while, however, and that his work ethic and defensive ability allows him to pursue a professional career.