Notre Dame-bound pitcher Jack Radel lighting up radar guns for Sioux Falls Roosevelt
Right-hander is top-rated prep pitcher in South Dakota
SIOUX FALLS — If you're going to go watch Jack Radel pitch for Roosevelt High School this spring (and it's definitely worth the trip), make sure to get there on time.
As a senior who got a late start due to basketball season and who is already committed to play college baseball at Notre Dame, Radel is being kept on a short leash — about 50 pitches per start. But for the few innings he gets out of those 50 pitches, you won't find a more electric pitcher in South Dakota.
Featuring a heavy fastball that consistently sits at 92 mph and has touched 94, the 6-foot-5 right-hander has all the tools to make a big impact at the next level and potentially beyond. He's currently the top-rated pitching prospect in the state.
"After my sophomore year, I got up to 88-mph," says Radel, who got on the radar pitching for the Sioux Falls Cyclones in the summer. "I realized I was starting to grow and get bigger. That's when I realized I could maybe be the same kind of pitcher as my brother."
Jacks' brother, Gus Radel, also starred for the Rough Riders and Cyclones, and also got the attention of scouts by throwing 90-mph heat while in high school. Radel pitched in the Big Ten for the Minnesota Gophers before transferring to Northern State, and Jack credits Gus for breaking him in.
"He was my role model," Jack said. "He taught me everything about the game. Growing up around him and his friends was how I learned the game and learned to love it. I really appreciated it."
That mentorship paid off in more ways than one. Not only does Jack light up radar guns like his brother, he's also a dangerous hitter and popular with teammates and coaches for his personality and demeanor on and off the field.
"He's the total package," said Rough Riders coach Erik DeJong. "People don't talk about it very much but I've seen him grow more as a hitter than a pitcher in his four years here. As weird as it sounds to say, he's fun to watch up there. He's a big kid with a mature approach."
Still, it's on the mound where Radel thrives. In a start last week against O'Gorman he threw four scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, including the last seven he faced in order. The only hit he gave up was a bloop double that the Riders right-fielder lost in a swirling wind.
Nearly every fastball Radel threw on the day was 91 mph or faster, and his slider sat in the mid-80s. The Knights struggled to put the ball in play and when they did it was often weak contact that seemed to stem from them swinging early in counts to try to avoid striking out. Radel also says he's been spending a lot of his time on the side working on developing a changeup, noting that successful pitchers in college and pro baseball have three reliable offerings.
"He's still fine-tuning his pitches," said DeJong, who oversaw another Rider star, Marcus Phillips, who will play at Tennessee. "His slider is a wipeout pitch and the (velocity) is there. The big thing for Jack is just his mentality, his experience. You watch him on the basketball court and you can see he's a leader. He's been through some adversity and that's made him better. His attitude, how he cares about other people — those things will take him a long ways."
It'll take him, at least, to the Fighting Irish, who play baseball in the ACC. Radel can't wait to get there, but noted that Notre Dame's academics, and that, for now, he's just focused on helping the Riders make a run this spring.
"I'm excited to play at Notre Dame — playing at that level will be tons of fun," said Radel, who was an all-state pick last year as a junior. "But I want to win a state championship with these guys. It's been a blast being out here building friendships and competing with them."