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Golden Arm: Minich Has Some Pop Behind the Plate for Redbank Valley Baseball Team

This is one in a series of articles highlighting some of the best players in the area heading into the 2022 high school baseball season.

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Before each game, Tate Minich shows off his strong, accurate arm behind the plate.

Before a first pitch is even thrown, Minich has affected the game for the Redbank Valley baseball team.

Opposing baserunners are warned. Run on Minich and the Bulldogs at your own peril.

“We always watch the opposing catcher throw down prior to games, and I’m sure other teams do the same thing,” said Redbank Valley baseball coach Craig Hibell. “When (Minich) throws, it’s definitely something that catches your eye. As strong as his arm is, it’s his accuracy that’s his best attribute.”

Minich threw out nine of the 17 baserunners who tried to swipe a bag against him last season — an exceptional percentage at any level, let alone in high school.

His presence behind the plate helps the Redbank pitchers take a deep breath on the mound.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“They’re able to kind of relax, make their pitches and not pay as much attention to the running game just because he can really limit what other teams can do,” Hibell said.

Minich is a baseball junkie. He plays 12 months out of the year — even during football season where he was a very effective slot receiver for the Bulldogs. In the fall, he hauled in 41 passes for 530 yards and seven touchdowns.

He’s certainly an athlete and dedicates himself in the weight room.

“He’s probably been one of the most dedicated kids in the weight room that we’ve had at Redbank Valley in quite some time,” Hibell said. “I’m opening the door for him to get in the weight room every morning by 6:15 a.m.”

Minich has set big goals for himself when it comes to baseball.

He wants to play at the next level and regularly attends showcases where every facet of his skills are measured.

“Stats are definitely huge,” Minich said. “It’s a great way to separate yourself from other kids to colleges to even look at you. I’ve worked with my uncle Mac (assistant coach Mac Minich). He’s really good when it comes to catching and he’s given me some pointers on how to decrease my pop time and get my arm velo up, little things that I can do to make myself better.”

Minich has been clocked at 81 mph on his throws to second base. His pop time — the time from the moment the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt to the moment the ball reaches the fielder’s glove at the base — is between 1.93 and 2.03 seconds as measured by Prep Baseball Report.

As a point of reference, J.T. Realmuto had the fastest average pop time in major league baseball last season at 1.89 seconds.

“I have some pretty good starting number to get my name out there,” Minich added. “As the season goes on and then next season, I hope that I can make those numbers even better.”

His numbers at the plate as a sophomore last season for Redbank were also pretty good.

Out of the leadoff spot he batted .310 with a homer, five doubles, two triples, 16 RBI and 13 runs scored. He also had an on base percentage of .452.

Minich will bat in the middle of the order this season, which should help during home games.

Minich had to be sort of a quick-change artist batting leadoff. After the top of the first inning was over, he’d have to sprint into the dugout to shed his gear so he could step into the box to start the bottom of the frame.

Hibell said it may have affected his first at-bat at home because he wasn’t completely comfortable.

So such problem when Minich is crouching behind the plate. He’s perfectly at ease back there.

He’s been catching since he was 13 and showed an early acumen for the demanding position.

“I fell in love with it right away,” Minich said.

Redbank Valley has some high hopes this season despite losing three seniors who made a big impact.

“We definitely have some talent coming back, so I think we all have the D9 medal in mind,” Minich said. “We still have a lot of work to get there.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.