Notre Dame Recruit Tommy Sheehan of Manasquan Poised for a Big Senior Season
After putting up dazzling numbers as a junior, Manasquan left-hander Tommy Sheehan heads into his senior season with a simple goal.
The same dominant performances, just more often.
"A big reason for why my stats weren't as good as I thought they could be last year was an injury and an illness during the season,'' Sheehan said. "I'm trying my hardest to stay healthy this year."
It shows the standard the Notre Dame recruit has set for himself that after earning SSN first-team All-Shore honors by going 5-1 with a 0.76 ERA, a 0.62 WHIP, 63 strikeouts and only 7 walks in 45 innings last year, he feels those numbers could have been better. His lone loss came when Freehold Boro ace Dan Chiusano threw a perfect game against Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament while Sheehan was battling illness.
Warriors head coach Bob Waldeyer, on the other hand, is simply looking for the same type of results, just over more innings. Sheehan will start with a pitch count between 70 and 80 in the early going, but Waldeyer's hope is that he can become more of a workhorse as the season progresses and the games get bigger.
"I don't think he can really improve on the quality of his innings,'' Waldeyer said. "Every game he went out for us last year he was pretty dominant. I think he leads by example, and he certainly is setting the tone of expectations. He wants the ball against the best competition."
The Warriors will need Sheehan to take the ball in one big game after another thanks to being realigned from Class A Central, where they won the division title last season. They are now part of a loaded Class B North, which on paper appears to be the Shore Conference's most rugged division and features three teams that won division titles last spring.
While Sheehan is more of a leader by example than a vocal, get-in-your-face player, he looks to set a competitive tone every time he is on the mound.
"I've pitched in some big games against good pitchers, and I think those pitchers bring the best out of me,'' Sheehan said. "It just motivates me to want to win even more."
Another motivating factor is that Sheehan is on the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft radar. Scouts from the Phillies, Mets, Yankees and Indians came to watch during the preseason and the list is growing, according to Waldeyer.
They will see a 6-foot-3 pitcher who has added 10 pounds of muscle to get to 195 and bumped his fastball from the high 80s to 91-92 miles per hour. He enters as a preseason Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American.
Sheehan elected not to play basketball for the first time in his four years at Manasquan in order to bulk up his upper body for this season.
"(The scouts) want to see a gain in velocity, and I think I've really worked on doing that, and they saw the results in our first scrimmage (when Sheehan hit 92 mph)," he said.
"I think he can consistently push that 92,'' Waldeyer said. "The thing that we've seen with him is that he stays as strong deeper into the game. He doesn't lose anything on his fastball."
He is in that tricky area where he doesn't want to overthrow and be obsessed with radar gun numbers, but also has scouts telling him they want to see a certain number consistently.
"He's not the player who's just looking out for himself to just impress scouts in his time out there,'' Waldeyer said. "He's aware of not throwing to the radar gun."
"I try to not get into that too much with seeing other kids ranked ahead of me because of their fastball velocity,'' Sheehan said. "I really just try to pitch my own game and not worry about how hard I throw."
Sheehan also worked to refine his curveball and changeup to pair with his two-seam fastball and his go-to pitch, a four-seam fastball.
"I heavily relied on my four-seamer last year, and I think the development of those two offspeed pitches will really bring my game to another level,'' Sheehan said.
Waldeyer believes Sheehan has the ability to be a weekend starter for Notre Dame as a freshman next year depending on what ultimately happens with the MLB draft. Sheehan's older brother, Jack, who also starred for the Warriors, is a freshman pitcher for the Fighting Irish this season.
Before he can turn his attention to South Bend, Sheehan hopes to help Manasquan make a run in the division and conference tournaments, and particularly the Central Jersey Group II tournament against similar-sized schools.
"The last three years have definitely flown by, and I'm really excited for this season,'' he said. "We have a bunch of returning starters and I think we have a lot of potential to compete in every game and in the Shore Conference and state tournaments. I'm definitely looking to be a leader for my team this year and bring the energy in those big games."
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