In the heart of hockey country, Draft Combine finds prime prep prospect

Rerick on path to becoming highest North Dakota high school pick in history

July 12th, 2024

PHOENIX -- Before was equipped with a fastball that could reach up to 98 mph, he was an imposing figure on skates ready to unleash a hit on the ice.

Growing up in Fargo, North Dakota, doesn’t exactly put young players on the proverbial baseball map from an early age. Hockey is the lifeblood of Fargo, the most populous city in the state, where Rerick grew up playing both sports. In the four years of the MLB Draft Combine, there hadn't been a player from the state in attendance.

“I've always just had that passion,” Rerick said. “At first it was just, ‘I want to play college baseball.’ That was my goal -- I always had that confidence -- around freshman year, and then I took a big, big jump my sophomore year. And that's kind of when the college looks came and then I just kept getting better and better, and it was just like, ‘Well, here comes the professional looks.' It's just been really cool ever since.”

Despite the draw of the rink, baseball was always the first priority for Rerick. His father, Michael, was a 22nd-round selection by the Cardinals in the 1998 MLB Draft, and is still tied for the all-time single-game strikeout record (21 for North Dakota State on April 26, 1996) in the Division II ranks.

The 18-year-old's link to his father has remained strong as he has emerged on the Draft scene as a legitimate Day 2 talent who drew scouts and talent evaluators to the Rough Rider State this spring. While Darin Erstad -- a native of Jamestown, N.D. -- was the first overall pick of the 1995 Draft and something of a baseball folk hero in the state, he joined the pro ranks by way of the University of Nebraska. No high school player from North Dakota has gone in the first 11 rounds of the Draft, a mark that Rerick -- equipped with three plus offerings -- will almost certainly eclipse.

The premier offering from the 6-foot-5 right-hander is a fastball that traditionally parks in the mid-90s and exhibits natural cut and ride. He also has two distinct breaking balls in his arsenal, making for a mix built to put opposing batters on their heels. The Texas commit (having flipped from Texas A&M following head coach Jim Schlossnagle's departure to the Longhorns) cited big leaguers Paul Skenes, Tyler Glasnow and Spencer Strider as hurlers he likes to study.

“It's how they just like to attack hitters in all counts and throw all their stuff for strikes whenever they want to,” Rerick said. “I think it's just cool watching those guys and trying to take things out of their game [for] my game.”

Of course, in order to play the game at all, Rerick has had to get creative. Whereas prep players from warm-weather states have inherent advantages such as year-round access to a diamond, MLB's Pipeline's No. 142 Draft prospect has taken a more unconventional route.

“I mean, most of my stuff I do is virtual with people,” Rerick said. “We have a baseball complex in Fargo. It’s new, probably 5 years old, about 10,000 square feet and that's where I just get my throwing in. It's just usually me and my dad and a buddy or a teammate or somebody that comes in, but yeah, that's kind of what I have to do.”

No player from Davies High School has ever entered the professional baseball ranks, yet alone been selected in the Draft. But of the 20 big leaguers born in North Dakota to have played in the big leagues, half have been in the past 20 years and a quarter since the turn of the decade.

In addition to allowing players to meet with general managers, scouting directors and front-office personnel in one place, an added bonus of the Combine process is that it presents a high-profile stage for some of the top-tier prep prospects to showcase their respective skill sets in a game setting. Rerick worked a scoreless frame during Tuesday's showcase in which his fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range, even eliciting a looking strike three call with it.

“I want teams to know just how much of a competitor I am,” Rerick said. “I want the ball in every situation and I just want to attack hitters in every count too. I think that’s kind of my game -- just go out there and compete.”