Luken Baker made the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason baseball team and has bolstered his case for the postseason team, leading Oak Ridge (Conroe, Texas) to 20-1 record. He’s hitting .417 with a .792 slugging percentage and five homers. As a pitcher, he’s 8-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 81 strikeouts and 11 walks in 51 innings. Until the regular season American Family Insurance ALL-USA baseball team comes out in June, we’re looking at players who deserve consideration.
Name and school: Luken Baker, Oak Ridge, Conroe, Texas.
Height, weight: 6-4, 250
Baseball future: The senior pitcher/designated hitter/first baseman has signed with Texas Christian but is considered a likely first-round draft choice.
Luken Baker is getting plenty of attention from baseball scouts, the only question is whether he’ll be an everyday player or a pitcher. He has a fastball that was clocked at 95 last summer, but he’s already shown major league power and a surprisingly good batting eye for a slugger.
“We had a lot of scouts here at the start of the season, especially since there was snow up in Dallas,” said Oak Ridge coach Mike Pirtle. “I checked the book and 55 scouts signed in and eight said they couldn’t get in to sign in. Half of the scouts come to see him in batting practice and the other half come to see him hit.”
He has five homers this season in 48 at-bats, and last summer, he won the Under Armour Home Run Derby in Chicago and the Junior Home Run Derby at the Major League All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis. In the UA Derby, he hit five of his home runs out of Wrigley Field and onto Waveland Avenue.
“He can hit the ball to right center as well as any Punch and Judy hitter, but he’s also hit homers over our lights,” Pirtle said. “In one batting practice, he hit five homers in five pitches and a lot of his homers are major league length.”
Baker’s father, Will, said his son is used to performing in pressure situations.
“Luken has played a lot of high level baseball,” Will Baker said. “He was on a select team that won a national championship when he was nine and again, when he was 10. When he was 12, he was on a team that won three big events. He’s always stood out, size-wise, so guys are going to pitch around him, give him a lot of curves on fastball counts. He’s always shouldered a lot of pressure. In USA Baseball, he made the team trials for 14, 15 and 18. He’s been performing on a stage where he’s had to impress people who subjectively held his advancement in their hands. He realizes it’s not about how hard he throws or how hard he hits the ball, it’s about consistency in how you play.”