Catching a star

Adenhart, Warrenfeltz have a long history

Adenhart, Warrenfeltz have a long history

April 27, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

In Williamsport ace Nick Adenhart's rise to a projected first-round major-league draft pick, at least one thing has remained constant over the years - the teammate giving him his target.

From Halfway Little League to Hagerstown PONY League to their last two seasons as Wildcats, David Warrenfeltz has been on the receiving end of thousands of Adenhart's pitches. Over time, the two have developed a chemistry only experience can create.

"Most of the time we are both thinking along the same lines," Warrnefeltz said. "I can figure out what he wants to throw and what's working well."


"It's a lot of body language and facial expressions," Adenhart said. "He knows what I'm thinking, and I know what he's thinking.

"He's a pro-level defensive catcher. He works really hard at it and I'm glad he's there with me step by step."

Their first steps came at age 8, and it didn't take long for coaches at Halfway Little League to move Warrenfeltz - who started as an infielder - behind the plate to catch the already hard-throwing Adenhart.

"I knew he was above average, but it's hard to anticipate at 9 years old that anybody could be major-league level," Warrenfeltz said.

Both moved through the Little League ranks quickly, culminating in 1999 when they guided Halfway's All-Stars to the District I title and a deep run in the Maryland state playoffs.

By then, Adenhart's fastball was already being clocked in the mid-70s.

Adenhart first became a blip on the radar of national baseball scouts at 13, when - as the only 13-year-old on Hagerstown PONY League's All-Stars (the other players were 14) - his pitching prowess helped Hagerstown earn a World Series berth and a spot in the United States championship game.

Warrenfeltz wasn't on that team - he would join Adenhart on the 2001 PONY All-Stars - but he was there to watch. As he recalls, it wasn't just his pitching that turned heads.

"I remember ... he made a throw from left center, and that's when people started talking about what an arm he had and about him maybe making the major leagues," Warrenfeltz said.

Adenhart spent his first two years of high school at St. Maria Goretti before transferring to Williamsport for his junior season, when he and Warrenfeltz were reunited.

"They really work well together. I don't have to call pitches, they can handle it," Wildcats coach Rod Steiner said. "A lot of people think they can catch Nick, but they can't. His ball moves around a lot, and David saves us a lot of passed balls."

As Adenhart's profile grew - he was ranked the top high school junior in the nation by Baseball America last year and many scouts regard him as the top high school pitcher in the country this season - Warrenfeltz's talents behind the plate have not gone unnoticed. Warrenfeltz, a junior, said some Virginia colleges have been in contact.

"Back then (at age 9) I moved from the infield to catch him, and it's brought up a lot of opportunities," Warrenfeltz said. "It's been a great experience."

"He's a really smart player and his physical skills are starting to catch up with his mental abilities," Adenhart said. "He's going to have the opportunity to take advantage of what's in front of him."

As will Adenhart, who - should he turn pro instead of going to the University of North Carolina, with whom he's signed a letter of intent - will likely get a signing bonus in the millions.

"We joke around a little, but he's pretty quiet about it," Warrenfeltz said. "He's really humble about it. ... He may owe me a few gloves. He's broken a few."

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