Shaver will make his pitch for UMD
St. Croix Central senior Mark Shaver has signed on to continue his baseball career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Shaver, the slender, hard-throwing right-hander, will join UMD after completing his senior season next spring. UMD is an NCAA Division 2 program.
Shaver received offers from several other schools, including Mankato State and Winona State, and had been scouted hard by the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He said he considered waiting to commit until next spring, to wait to see if any NCAA Division 1 offers came.
The interest from UMD was so strong and positive that Shaver decided to make the early commitment. Another pitcher, left-hander Kyle Dahl of Minnetonka, Minn., also decided to make the early commitment to UMD.
"Mark's work ethic and desire to be the best are second to none," said UMD coach Bob Rients. "He is a fierce competitor on the mound and we are excited for him to have an impact with our program next year."
Rients told Shaver that improving the Bulldogs' pitching was his highest priority.
"It was very important for us to sign these two high caliber pitchers in the first signing period," Rients had to say about his signees. "They are the first steps taken in this recruiting class to improve our success on the mound and are both quality student-athletes who we are eager to get on campus next fall."
Shaver led the Panthers to their first-ever appearance in the WIAA sectional tournaments last spring. In the sectionals he may have pitched the most memorable game in team history. Central and Eau Claire Regis locked up in an impressive pitching duel. Shaver was outstanding, throwing a four-hitter, but Regis won 1-0 on an unearned run.
College programs aren't the only ones who have noticed Shaver. A scout from the Los Angeles Dodgers watched him pitch against Regis. That scout also watched Shaver pitch at an American Legion tournament this summer where Shaver's pitches were clocked at 87 miles per hour.
After his high school season, Shaver pitched for the Hudson Legion team last summer and built upon the success he had with the Panthers.
Shaver has also pitched in several of the top baseball camps in the Midwest, earning him more scouting attention. He pitched in the Milwaukee Brewer Classic, which showcases the top 40 high school prospects in the state. He's pitched at the Minnesota Twins Invite Only Tryout Camp and the Wisconsin High School Combine. He got more exposure this fall when he pitched in the Dick Siebert Gopher Fall League.
Shaver receives a scholarship package from UMD that will cover about 40-45 percent of his schooling for his freshman year. It was during the past high school season where Shaver really turned the corner in becoming an elite pitcher. He was still trying to find his style at the start of the season. He soon settled in to using more of a sidearm motion.
"What I really worked on in the past season was my two-seam fastball," Shaver said. He said this pitch has a sinking action that is a good complement to the slider and changeup he throws. The improvement of his changeup was a big help, because it made his other pitches look even faster.
St. Croix Central coach Mike Fern said he's happy for Shaver because now recruiting won't be a distraction for the upcoming season. Fern said one of Shaver's best assets is his love for baseball.
"He's invested a lot of time and effort into being a good ballplayer," Fern said.