The Buckeyes’ incoming freshman from Celina comes with firepower, expectation and curiosity from those who wonder how he could turn down the Cincinnati Reds. But Seth Lonsway says he’s coming to Ohio State simply for the tradition, the degree, and to get better.
Celina – The phone rang this week and it was Seth Lonsway on the other end.
Who’s Seth Lonsway?
Well, die-hard Cincinnati Reds fans would know. The son of Donovan and Marta Lonsway, he was the club’s 19th round draft pick this past June in the amateur draft.
And die-hard Ohio State baseball fans will know…he turned down the Reds (and a pile of cash) to sign with the Buckeyes and enter school this fall as a pitching hopeful for the next three years, minimum. Fresh off an abbreviated summer, post-draft he helped pitch the Midland Redskins to the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, New Mexico. His numbers? 4-0, in four starts…and he gave up one (1) run.
Now they say that college recruiting is a crap shoot, no matter what the sport. And it would seem that one who even had the option of a major league contract or college would would portend a pat hand. So in baseball terms, Lonsway does hold some high cards.
First, he’s left-handed, a premium in today’s tradition of pitchers like Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw.
Second, he throws in the 93-95 miles-per-hour range, so even on his worst day he’s capable of simply overpowering the strike zone. “When all else fails, have some of this,” a minor league pitching coach once told me.
But Lonsway, from Celina High School, where he made the Bulldogs an odds-on favorite every time he took the mound the past two springs, isn’t resting on odds. And, that fact had a lot to do with his decision to turn down the Reds and say yes to Buckeye head coach Greg Beals.
An articulate young man who expresses himself well beyond his years and experience, he has the much bigger baseball picture in mind.
“Look, I know that I can throw the ball by people in high school,” he said this week. “I like to compete. I think I have the heart of a lion. I know that I’m athletic and that I can get off the mound and field my position. But I also know that in college baseball I’m not going to go out there and blow people away. So I wanted to be around coaches at the next level who can help me become a more complete pitcher.”
And as to his choice of Ohio State…?
“I just followed my heart,” he says. “There were other schools, and actually Ohio State came along later in the process. But they had also been there for a long time, and Coach Beals made a great impression on me that he had my best interests at heart. I know that the Reds offer was a lot of money, but a degree is worth more than that to me; plus I have at least three years to get better.”
Without being specific, it was a lot of money, north of $400,000, but not enough to make Lonsway waver over his choice to become a Buckeye.
“I have no regrets over my decision,” he adds. “This was a 99% life-long decision that’s going to help me down the road. In the meantime I’m excited to be a Buckeye, learn all I can, and represent Ohio State University as well as I can.”
That’s nice, of course. What every alum wants to hear; but in the real sense of recruiting, and competing for a Big Ten championship, Buckeye fans want to know more about what they might expect from the Mercer County freshman – and why he turned down the Reds?
“I know this isn’t high school, so I really want to work on getting stronger, improving my flexibility…and have better consistency with my breaking pitch (curve) and changeup. That’s my #1 priority because I know I’m going to need that 2nd and 3rd pitch.”
But prior to that, one could tell over the phone that Seth Lonsway was beaming over the prospect of his first days on campus, and his first days in a Buckeye uniform. He’ll be moving in this weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to getting in the locker room and meeting the guys,” he said, without a hint of nervousness. “I want to meet the other new guys coming with my class. I just want to get used to being a Buckeye.”
As for a major, that’s to be decided, although he mentions his fascination with terms like physiology, and the processes that make the body work.
But as to reality, he is, perhaps, the most intriguing of what Greg Beals hopes to be another sterling recruiting class. Ask him a question, he’s quick with an answer – confident that he’s made the right life choice.
“It’s been a difficult decision for my family,” he concludes. “But either road, the Reds or college, was a good road. I got a lot of input and I know now that I’ve made a good choice.”
Most impressive of all, a good choice when you have the option of making…the ‘choice’ of choices. Seth Lonsway is ready – really ready – to be a Buckeye!