While he readily admits that not swinging a bat any more will be tough to deal with, former Freeburg High star Cody Siebenberger used his pitching arm to track down a baseball scholarship to the University of Missouri.
“I never thought that I’d be ready to put the bat away, but I think this is the right choice,” said Siebenberger, a pitcher and outfielder at Jefferson Junior College in Hillsboro, Missouri who recently gave a verbal commitment to the Tigers. “I think God gave me a left-handed arm for a reason, so I’m going to try to use it.”
According to Siebenberger, the Missouri coaching staff became interested after seeing him pitch March 9 against Three Rivers.
“Throughout the year I’ve been throwing the ball pretty well and it seems like the bigger schools and scouts seem to like left-handed arms a lot more than an outfielder,” he said. “As soon as I started focusing on pitching, that week I got a bunch of phone calls. That’s when the recruiting started for real.
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“I had some smaller Division I offers out of high school. Some people wanted me to pitch and some people wanted me to play outfield, but playing outfield was in my heart.”
Apparently pitching has found its way in there now, too.
In 9 2/3 innings this spring, Siebenberger has allowed six hits and no runs while striking out 16.
I never thought that I’d be ready to put the bat away, but I think this is the right choice. I think God gave me a left-handed arm for a reason, so I’m going to try to use it.
“Pitching is a good way to really extend my career,” Siebenberger said. “Hopefully I get to play past college and keep going, especially being left-handed.”
Even as recently as last fall, Siebenberger felt his best chance at a Division I scholarship was as an outfielder.
“At that point I still wanted to just play the outfield and hit, because that’s what I’ve loved to do my whole life,” he said. “I just told them I wanted to see what happened in the spring and I kind of changed my mind.”
A 5-foot-10, 180-pound lefty, Siebenberger’s fastball has reached 90 mph and routinely sits in the upper-80s with good movement.
“My change-up is what really got Mizzou’s attention,” he said.
Siebenberger was a two-time BND All-Area selection at Freeburg. He hit .464 as a senior with 21 RBIs and 40 runs scored after helping the Midgets to a third-place finish at the 2014 Class 2A state tournament as a junior, hitting .446 with 43 runs and 17 RBIs.
Siebenberger chose Missouri and the Southeastern Conference over Saint Louis University, the school at which his father, Doug Siebenberger once played. Like his son, Doug Siebenberger first attended junior college (Southwestern Illinois College, then known as Belleville Area College) before earning a Division I scholarship.
“It really was a tough decision, SLU has some great facilities and a great team this year,” Cody Siebenberger said. “I liked their coaching staff, too. But you dream of playing in the SEC and when you get that opportunity it’s just tough to turn that down.”
Mizzou has a new coaching staff this season led by former Southeast Missouri State head coach Steve Bieser and pitching coach Patrick Hallmark.
When you get to college you’re a nobody again, you’ve got to prove yourself to everybody.
The Tigers (21-4) are ranked 23rd in the nation and junior right-hander and Collinsville High graduate Tanner Houck (3-2, 2.80 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings) is considered a potential high first-round pick in the upcoming Major League Draft.
“I just felt Mizzou was the right place for me to become a more complete pitcher,” Siebenberger said. “That’s what you dream of going up. You watch Mizzou on TV and watch the SEC Network, being a baseball junkie like myself that’s what I watched at home, too.”
Siebenberger said he enjoyed his time at Jefferson, which also helped former Belleville West pitcher Parker Beine earn a scholarship to Marshall.
“The baseball here’s been great,” he said. “We had a good team last year and we have a good team this year, I’m getting to play a lot more. When you get to college you’re a nobody again, you’ve got to prove yourself to everybody.”