It takes a great pitcher to make a baseball team competitive, and sophomore right-hander Thomas Eager has successfully tried to make Cal Poly stand out in college baseball.
Eager, who is a business junior but a sophomore on the roster because of a redshirt season, is 8-3 with a 3.45 ERA. He leads the Mustangs in innings pitched (101 2/3) and strikeouts (89) and has held opponents to a .226 batting average.
Eager has always had potential, but the Merced native believes it has to be earned.
“I think potential is about giving your hard work,” Eager said. “The potential you get is what you make out of it, doing the right stuff and taking care of business.”
Eager feels that baseball has taught him plenty of things on and off the field since he joined the Mustangs two years ago.
“Playing baseball here is great because you learn a lot of things,” Eager said. “No. 1, you learn about preparation not only for baseball but for life. “Time management has to be used a lot because (playing) baseball is almost like a full-time job.”
Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said that Eager has been a consistent force on the mound. He noted that whenever Eager takes the field, there is a good chance the team will win.
“What makes him successful is that he’s very competitive and has a fastball-slider mix,” Lee said. “He just likes to compete.”
Lee believed that Eager has improved on his emotional maturity as well as his fastball command and “quality secondary pitches.”
He thought that Eager fits the mold of a great pitcher.
“He takes it personally when we lose,” Lee said. “He’s a team player.”
Lee said that Eager has the potential to make it into the majors provided that he improves his performance on the field on a yearly basis.
And the big leagues are paying great attention to Eager as a potential player on their clubs.
“I’ve been contacted by every team,” Eager said. “I (have) received questionnaires from every team except the Washington Nationals.”
Eager has dreamed of playing professional baseball ever since he was a small child. Even though he’s almost eligible to be drafted by Major League Baseball, he plays the sport because of his love for the game.
But he wouldn’t mind playing for one team in particular.
“It all depends on the draft,” Eager said. “I just want to play baseball, that’s the biggest thing. But my favorite team is the (San Francisco) Giants, and I would love to play with them.”
Eager thought that he got his love for the game thanks to his father. He also mentioned a family connection to the majors.
“I fell in love with the game, and I’ve always been halfway decent at it,” Eager said. “My grandfather was actually drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, and my dad played high school baseball. But he introduced me to all the sports.”
Cal Poly sophomore shortstop Brent Morel said this year’s young squad has benefited from Eager’s experience.
“He (Eager) taught other guys on how to play the game,” Morel said. “Off the field, he’s there for the other guys.”
Mustang junior right fielder Grant Desme said the team would have a difficult time without Eager.
“It would be tougher winning ball games without him,” Desme said. “He’s one of our older and more experienced guys that knows he’ll be very consistent every time he goes out there.”
Even though Eager hopes to get drafted into pro ball, he still plans to finish his degree at Cal Poly.
“My immediate goal is to graduate here from Cal Poly, but I’d also like to be a professional baseball player,” Eager said.