Sports

Highland native Jake Haberer gets shot with Seattle Mariners organization

Highland High School graduate Jake Haberer had his independent league baseball contract with the Florence Freedom purchased by the Seattle Mariners.
Highland High School graduate Jake Haberer had his independent league baseball contract with the Florence Freedom purchased by the Seattle Mariners.

A member of the Florence, Ky. Freedom in the Frontier Baseball League for about two months, Highland native Jake Haberer feared the worst when he was called into manager Dennis Pelfrey’s office earlier this week..

But the news was good. The 6-2, 225-pound relief pitcher was notified that his contract had been purchased by the Seattle Mariners.

“When I went in, the way the coaches were talking, I was afraid they were going to cut me. Then they told me that Seattle had purchased my contract.. It was an amazing feeling,’’ Haberer said on Friday. “I called my dad.. I called my mom and my girlfriend and I called my uncle.. They were all thrilled.

“This is something I have been working for my entire life. It’s a dream come true but it’s the first step. I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.’’

Haberer, 23, currently is working out at the Mariners spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona. With about a month remaining in the minor league season, Haberer was still unsure on Friday where he will be assigned to pitch.

“They (Seattle) haven’t said anything about where I’m going to be playing. I’’ll work out today and I’m just doing what they are telling me to do.,’’ Haberer said. “Because there is only about a month left, I’m thinking I may be sent to their Rookie League team. But again I don’t know. ‘’

Haberer graduated from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston this spring after a solid four year career Panthers. During his college career, Haberer appeared in 84 games, striking out 145 hitters in 138 innings. But after not getting drafted in the Major League Baseball Amateur draft in June, Haberer was unsure what he wanted to do.

“I had a good college career at Eastern.. It’s a good school and my dad (Dave Haberer) and uncle both played college baseball there. Plus it was close to home,’’ Haberer said. “I didn’t get drafted and so I didn’t really know what I was going to do..

“But after talking to my dad, he suggested that I give it (baseball) a chance and so I did. I had a tryout with Florence and signed..’’

Haberer has been a solid contributor in the Freedom’s bulllpen in the last two months. Possessing a mid-90’s fastball along with a slider and change-up, Haberer made 20 apperances, working 20 innings and compiling an 0-1 record with a 1.80 ERA. He had 19 strikeouts and three saves for the Freedom.

Haberer said the difference between college and professional baseball is the call to man a specific role.

“In college, pitchers are sometimes used as starting pitchers, long relief or in short relief,’’ said Haberer, who made four starts in his college career. “In professional baseball, I think the fact that knowing my role had helped me. It’s also better pitching to hitters using wooden bats than aluminum.

“But I really enjoyed playing for Florence in the Frontier League. My teammates and coaches were great and very helpful. It’s a very high level of baseball.’’

Haberer is a 2013 graduate of Highland High School. A two-time first team all-Mississippi Valley Conference performer, Haberer was a first team all-state selection by Prep Baseball Report during his senior year as he helped lead the Bulldogs to a 27-10 record and a share of the league championship.

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