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LIVING A DREAM: Redbank Valley Catcher Tate Minich Signs With Seton Hill University, Also in Running for Prestigious Scholarship

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — In a world of pop times and exit velocities, of spin rates and bat speeds, Tate Minich was also laser-focused on another important number.

His GPA.

(Pictured above, Tate Minich signs his national letter of intent to play baseball at Seton Hill University/submitted photo)

“The classroom has always been something that I keep my mind on and that is very important to me,” said Minich, a senior catcher for the Redbank Valley baseball team. “As a student-athlete, you have to keep up with the books to be able to play and go to the next level.”

That next level came calling at Seton Hill University, a school with a rich baseball tradition as well as an academic one.

The average GPA among baseball players at the school last year was a 3.0.

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Minich said he knows he has to be up to the challenge, both on the diamond and off of it.

“Academics were the No. 1 thing for me because, obviously, the chances of me going to play any type of professional baseball are very, very slim,” Minich said. “Baseball was kind of the plus behind academics.”

Minich committed to Seton Hill in July and signed his national letter of intent last week.

It was a moment he had thought about most of his life, almost since the first time he picked up a bat, ran the bases and crouched behind the plate.

“It was a huge relief,” Minich said. “It’s every athlete’s dream growing up to be able to sign a scholarship to go to college. Being able to achieve one of my dreams was pretty special.”

Minich was a hot commodity during the recruiting process because of his eclectic set of skills as a catcher.

He has excellent footwork and a strong arm. That combination has yielded one of the best pop times — the time it takes the baseball to go from the catcher’s mitt to second base on a throw — around.

Minich’s best pop time is 1.93. To put that in perspective, the average pop time of MLB catchers is 2.0.

“It’s cool. It’s a flashy number. At the end of the day, though, it’s not really the biggest thing behind the dish,” Minich said. “You have framing. Receiving. Blocking. They all come before the pop time.”

He’s proven to be good at those things, too, which is why virtually every school in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference was clamoring for him.

As a junior, Minich played strong defensively behind the plate and also batted .403 with two home runs, eight doubles, a triple, 26 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 21 games.

Minich also showed speed with 14 stolen bases.

(Photo by Madison McFarland)

His intangibles, too, set him apart. His ability to work with pitchers made him an attractive recruit.

“My main responsibility back there is making my pitcher feel comfortable and giving him a nice target and making sure that I put my body in front of the ball to gain his trust,” Minich said. “It’s on and off the field. You have to develop a relationship with your pitchers. Bryson (Bain) from last year — I caught Bryson for four straight years and we just had an automatic connection. In a tough count and in a tough situation, I threw down one sign and he nodded. We both knew what he wanted to throw.”

Minich was attracted to Seton Hill because of its small-town feel and academic standing.

The baseball team also hasn’t had a losing season since 2004 and hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2005. The Griffins have made two trips to the NCAA Division II World Series, the last coming in 2021.

“Obviously growing up in Redbank, we’re part of a small, small town. When I went there, it felt like home,” Minich said. “It’s not a huge school but they are great with academics and they have one of the best Division II baseball programs in the country. So, it’s kind of the best of both worlds.

“I can’t wait to get there and start competing from day one and see where things go.”

Minich will major in exercise science. He then plans to get his master’s degree in physical therapy.

“It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do,” Minich said. “I’ve just always been around sports and my mom’s always been in the medical field. Just being able to so something with sports and the medical field one day is really cool.”

Minich also received another honor recently when he was named one of the local winners of the Heisman High School School Scholarship.

The Heisman Trophy Trust hands out more than 5,700 scholarships across to student-athletes across the country each year. Minich is now in the running to be a state winner and then perhaps a national finalist with a chance to win a scholarship in the amount of $10,000.

Minich said he was shocked to receive the honor. He also said he is keeping his expectations in check.

“I still don’t really expect to win anything out of it, but it’s still pretty cool to be part of that,” he said.

He doesn’t plan on resting this winter after another long football season.

“I’m going to be with my hitting coach Jack Graham in Russelton pretty much all winter long and leading up to the season,” Minich said. “I’d really like to focus on a lot of my mechanics behind the dish. Along with that, I want to continue to be in the weight room and just continue to get better every day.”

Minich is looking forward to the high school season this upcoming spring.

There’s an influx of talented freshmen coming to join a core group that helped stun No. 1 seed and District 7 champion Serra Catholic in the state playoffs last season.

“I think we’re going to have a great team this year,” Minich said. “We’ve really been excited for this class for the past two years and I’m excited to see how far we go.”

Minich’s stellar football career at Redbank came to an end on Saturday afternoon in a 7-3 loss to Brockway in the District 9 Class A semifinals.

Minch caught 50 passes for 715 yards and 10 touchdowns this season for the Bulldogs.

“There really is no sport like football with having a family and having bonds like that,” Minich said. “It’s four years that you put your time in with what you would call your brothers on the football team. Taking the pads off for the last time, it was pretty rough.”

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