South Jersey pitcher Kevin Comer has power and potential

Seneca righthander Kevin Comer throws everything hard. He is committed to Vanderbilt, although he could be a first- or second-round pick in June's major-league draft.
Seneca righthander Kevin Comer throws everything hard. He is committed to Vanderbilt, although he could be a first- or second-round pick in June's major-league draft.
Posted: April 01, 2011

There's no secret to Kevin Comer's success: It's the right arm that unleashes those 90-plus-m.p.h. fastballs.

Comer is an intimidating presence on the mound. He is the prototype of the towering ace who has dominated the sport through the ages and through the stages, from the late 1900s to today, from Little League to the major leagues.

Comer, a senior at Seneca, is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He's a pure power pitcher. He throws everything hard, although he's working on a change-up.

He hits 94 m.p.h. on radar guns on a 45-degree day in late March. He fires 82-m.p.h. sliders. He averages nearly two strikeouts an inning.

"He's the whole package," Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said.

But there is another element to Comer's dominance that is not as obvious as his physical ability. It's no secret to his teammates and coaches, although it can't be measured by a radar gun or recorded like another "K" in the score book.

Seneca coach Sean Cassel says Comer is "as fine a human being as I've ever met."

Seneca senior infielder Chris Dellemonache said Comer is "way more modest than you would think the best pitcher in New Jersey would be."

Everybody around the pitcher who has committed to Vanderbilt and could be a first- or second-round pick in June's major-league draft believes his calm demeanor and team-first attitude are as much a part of his success as that powerhouse of a right arm.

"Kevin is so relaxed," Dellemonache said. "He doesn't show any emotion out there, and I think that's kind of intimidating to other teams."

Comer said he was "brought up in a modest way," and he's determined not to let his stature as one of the most talented pitchers in recent South Jersey history change his personality.

"That's important to me," Comer said. "I like to keep it lighthearted. It's baseball. It's supposed to be fun. I want to be out here and have fun with my teammates."

In a recent scrimmage at Pemberton, Comer pitched three innings as about 20 major-league scouts stood behind the backstop with their radar guns and video cameras and notebooks.

He faced 10 batters. He walked one. He struck out the other nine.

His fastest pitch hit 94 m.p.h. on a radar gun. His final pitch hit 91.

"His athletic ability speaks for itself," said Cassel, whose talented team is No. 3 in The Inquirer preseason Top 10 and should be a strong contender for Olympic National as well as Group 3 sectional and state titles. "Kevin always stays within himself. He's just Kevin out there."

Comer went 6-3 with 100 strikeouts in 52 innings as a junior. He decided on Vanderbilt after narrowing his choices to the Southeastern Conference program and West Coast power UCLA.

He likely will face another tough choice after the June draft. His every outing this spring likely will draw a crowd of scouts.

If he's hitting 94 m.p.h. on the gun on a cold day in March, he could be touching 96 on a warm day in May. He could be another first-round pick, like Millville outfielder Mike Trout, now one of baseball's most highly touted prospects in the Angels organization, in 2009.

"I'm 50-50 on that," Comer said of the choice between attending college or immediately pursuing a professional career. "It's a big thought for me, but I want to see how that plays out."

Cassel said Comer hasn't changed since the coach met him as a skinny freshman in 2007.

"He's exactly the same," Cassel said. "He's the first guy to chase foul balls. He'll keep the book. He's the first guy to congratulate a teammate when they get a hit."

Tropiano also is struck by Comer's demeanor on the mound.

"What really makes him outstanding is his great mental makeup," Tropiano said. "His expression never changes. He never gets too high, never gets too low."

Dellemonache said that team chemistry is a key for the Golden Eagles this season, and that Comer is a big part of that.

"We all get along, all support each other," Dellemonache said. "Kevin is the best pitcher in New Jersey, and the way he acts, we don't want to let him down, and he doesn't want to let us down."


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223 or panastasia@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|