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Seton Hill's Haines preps for MLB draft

| Saturday, June 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Seton Hill pitcher Alex Haines poses in the dugout on campus in Greensburg on Friday, May 31, 2013. Haines is preparing for the Major League Baseball Draft.

When Alex Haines injured his left elbow after his junior season at Hempfield, he thought the dream of becoming a major leaguer was over.

But Haines had Tommy John surgery and was assured by his doctor, Martin Gillespie, that his career wasn't over.

“I was a little naive about the surgery,” Haines said. “I didn't even know if it was realistic that I'd throw again.”

But Gillespie told Haines he'd come back stronger. “Obviously, I did,” Haines said.

The MLB Draft begins Thursday with the first two rounds, and Haines said he will be eagerly awaiting a call Friday. The Seton Hill junior said he's ranked by at least one scouting service as the No. 1 prospect in the state, going as early as the fourth round.

“When I injured my arm, I never thought I'd be in this position,” he said. “I can't believe I have a shot at being drafted.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander will watch the draft online from his parent's house in Fort Allen.

Haines said once he was cleared to resume his workouts after the surgery, he worked hard and finally got back on the mound his freshman season.

“I didn't throw off the mound for 14 months, but when I hit 90 (mph) in my last outing in the fall of my freshman season, I knew I could do this again,” Haines said. “I'm amazed what I've done. It's kind of not real to me.”

Haines got better each season at Seton Hill. He finished with a 19-6 career record with three saves, six complete games and 233 strikeouts in 180 13 innings.

He was named West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year this past season after going 8-2 with a 2.35 ERA. He's consistently been clocked in the low 90s this spring.

Haines, who has interviewed with almost every MLB team, was clocked between 94-95 mph in 2012 while playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. It was his breakout season.

“I had a great season there,” Haines said. “I got to start the all-star game and pitched in front of 5,000 fans. It was probably the highlight of my career.”

Despite the injury prior to Haines' senior season, Seton Hill baseball coach Mark Marizzaldi offered a scholarship.

“Some may say it was a gamble for us to offer him,” Marizzaldi said. “But we had other pitchers that had Tommy John surgery and came back strong.”

Haines spends three or four hours a day either lifting weights or long tossing. He long tosses between 300 and 350 feet.

But it took a rough summer playing in the Valley League in Virginia for Haines to realize he needed to step up his workout routines.

“It made me reconsider my baseball career,” Haines said. “Everything changed after that summer.

“I changed my mindset. I started taking things more serious. I tried to get stronger, faster and bigger to throw harder.”

Haines said he long tosses seven days a week, unusual for most pitchers.

“I try to throw the ball as far as I can and as hard as I can,” Haines said. “It teaches my body to be explosive. If I can throw a baseball 300 feet, it should be easy to throw a baseball 60 feet.”

Marizzaldi said Haines' workout routine is like a professional's.

“He is so focused, so disciplined and so dedicated,” Marizzaldi said. “He really wants it. He wants to make it to the big leagues.”

And Haines said Friday can't come fast enough.

“I've waited 21 years for the draft. I guess I can wait another week,” he said.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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