Shane Wilhelm would love to follow in the footsteps of Tanner Houck.
Wilhelm, a junior pitcher at Columbia High, has given a verbal commitment to the University of Missouri baseball program.
Houck, a Collinsville High graduate, pitched three years at Missouri before being selected by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the amateur draft in June. He received a $2.6 million signing bonus. Both Houck and Wilhelm are right-handers.
“He came from a similar background from where I’m coming from,” Wilhelm said. “They were able to get him and fine-tune his mechanics to prepare him for an opportunity in baseball. That’s why Mizzou stood out so well. Other schools had great resumes as well, but I would love to have the opportunity to get drafted and play baseball beyond college.”
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As a sophomore last spring, Wilhelm was 6-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 44 1/3 innings. He allowed 36 hits, walked 24 and struck out 46. He also batted .386 (44-for-114) with nine doubles, three home runs and 19 RBIs as Columbia finished 22-11.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Wilhelm had multiple Division I offers and also considered Missouri State, Kansas State and Wake Forest. Air Force, Memphis and Xavier also recruited Wilhelm, who estimated he had 20 to 25 offers.
“What made Mizzou stand out was the coaching staff. The coaches, I really connected with everything they were preaching,” Wilhelm said. “It was hard not to buy in. It’s a four-year commitment. I wanted to be able to be comfortable around them and be able to be coached by them.”
What made Mizzou stand out was the coaching staff. The coaches, I really connected with everything they were preaching. It was hard not to buy in. It’s a four-year commitment. I wanted to be able to be comfortable around them and be able to be coached by them.
Columbia junior pitcher Shane Wilhelm
Wilhelm, the son of Kent and Lauren Wilhelm, throws a mid- to- upper-80s fastball, a curveball, slider and changeup. His brother, Brendan, is a 2015 graduate of Columbia who also was a pitcher.
“I feel like the fastball-changeup combo is really good,” said Shane Wilhelm, who pitched this summer for the St. Louis Prospects. “My fastball has some natural cut to it, and I can throw a two-seamer that tails in. My changeup has a great speed difference and has a downward bite to it.”
Wilhelm’s mental approach also was a plus.
“Whenever I spoke to the coaches, they really liked my competitiveness and how I showed no emotion on the mound – even when things didn’t go the team’s way,” Wilhelm said. “I was competitive, held my composure on the mound and continued to attack the hitters. I watched my brother pitch before me and it’s the way my parents have raised me. And my coaches, they’ve all been great.”
Columbia coach Neal O’Donnell was impressed by Wilhelm’s development last season.
“Shane was solid for us as a sophomore,” he said. “Our offense took off when we put him in the (No.) 3 hole, and he had great numbers on the mound. We’re looking forward to having him for two more years, but we’re more excited for him and his future.”
Wilhelm is effective working both sides of the plate, and his changeup – which he considers his second-best pitch – could be a major weapon against left-handed hitters.
“Everyone is fascinated now by the curveball, but the changeup can do wonders if you throw it right,” Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm is a quarterback on the Columbia football team, but he has missed the last four games with a bruised right shoulder that still is healing.
With his baseball scholarship secured, Wilhelm isn’t sure whether he will continue to play football.
“(Baseball) is my main priority,” Wilhelm said. “That’s where I’m getting part of my college paid to do.”
Editor’s Note: Although they share the same last name, the subject of this story is not related to the reporter.
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm