TEMPE, Ariz. -- One night removed from a 25-run outburst during Game 1 of States Play, right-handed pitcher Minjae Seo set the tone for what would be largely a duel between high-octane arms from the 2025 Draft class.
Seo, a Vanderbilt commit, flashed both his style and explosive repertoire for the East squad during its 6-1 defeat to the West in Game 2 of the Invitational at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday night. Armed with a custom-made pink glove, the right-hander spun three no-hit frames, compiling six strikeouts while working around a pair of walks.
Despite the dominant appearance of his final line, Seo admitted that he was battling his changeup command early on before a member of the on-hand coaching staff helped him hone in with a simplistic approach: aim for the catcher’s helmet and let the pitch’s natural action do the rest.
“If you have all three pitches working, the hitters have to think a lot,” Seo said. “So it's so much harder to hit when you’ve got all three working, throwing all three for strikes. At first, only two [pitches] were working and then after I got all three, it really helped.”
Seo flashed an impressive three-pitch mix, ramping his heater up as high as 93 mph, befuddling a West lineup that didn’t hit the ball out of the infield. His curveball sat in the mid-70s and was the decisive pitch on three of his punchouts.
A native of Korea, Seo first moved with his family to Western Canada, before eventually settling in Carrollton, Tex., a Dallas suburb. His older brother, MJ, was a highly regarded member of the 2023 class who is in the midst of his freshman season at LSU. Minjae has emerged as one of the premier right-handed hurlers in the ‘25 class, which allowed him to commit to Vanderbilt, which he dubbed his “dream school.”
Citing the electricity created around the program during the 2021 season when Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker formed a formidable one-two punch atop the Commodores’ rotation that led to a College World Series runner-up showing, Seo wants to be next in the lineage of Vandy hurlers. (Leiter was selected second overall in the 2021 Draft, whereas Rocker went third overall in 2022 – both to the Rangers.)
Seo has a pronounced leg kick that he utilizes to help him generate velocity, in addition to lengthening his stride and thereby giving his fastball added life. The nature of the lower half of his motion and his whippy arm action – along with a nearly identical height and build – looks reminiscent of Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler, yet another Vandy hurler to have made his mark.
“I think it helps with my timing because instead of just going straight up and down, if I go out and in, I get [my motion] together,” Seo explained. “I also think if I'm in that position, I'm more powerful to the plate.”
Here are three other standout performers from Game 2 of States Play action:
Zach Strickland, RHP (West): The 17-year-old UCLA commit traded zeros with Seo from the other dugout, compiling five strikeouts over his three one-hit frames. He retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, impressing with an 89-93 mph fastball, low-80s changeup and low-70s bender that flummoxed East batters, with four of his K’s coming on his heater. The Southern Cal native – who threw 29 of his 45 pitches for strikes – flashed the repeatable delivery and mound presence that has put him on the map as one of the top prep arms in the 2025 class.
Holden Hering, RHP (West): Picking up where Strickland left off, the Texas Tech commit worked a pair of hitless frames and added a pickoff to his ledger. The 6-foot-5 native of College Station, Tex., was able to work downplane, displaying a high-80s heater and two impressive offspeed offerings – an upper-70s changeup and mid-70s curveball – which accounted for his three swinging strikeouts.
Trent Grindlinger, C (West): Known for his considerable arm strength behind the dish, the 17-year-old simultaneously flashed his baseball acumen by flawlessly executing a back pick on a runner who had strayed too far off first in the sixth. The uncommitted Huntington Beach (Calif.) prepster also added a line-drive RBI single a half-inning prior.