The thud of a baseball hitting the catcher's mitt sounds different when Luke Geske is throwing the ball.
It's a louder and deeper thud. Geske's pitches make everyone take notice.
Geske, a sophomore at The Out-of-Door Academy, has been impressing college scouts since the 2020 summer when he participated in a number of Perfect Game events and played on the travel ball circuit with the Florida Burn. It was at those events where he caught the eye of the University of Miami, which swiftly offered him a scholarship. Geske decided to commit.
"I felt like it was the best fit for me," Geske said. "I connected with the coaching staff there. They did a great job of consistently recruiting me. It's where I felt comfortable."
Geske, who is 6-foot-1, said he's primarily a fastball and slider pitcher, though he has dabbled with a changeup this season. He can reach 89 mph on his fastball right now, but one of his goals is to consistently get his velocity above 90 mph. Collegiate scouts think he can do it. Geske has a nine rating at Perfect Game, which the site says translates to a potential top-10 round pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft and/or the highest-level college prospect.
His coach at ODA, Mike Matthews, agrees with that sentiment.
"He can be a top-level starter for a big university," Matthews said. "And who knows past that. Ultimately, he's got the stuff to do it. I won't be surprised if he has a lot of success in college and moves on to the next level as well."
Geske's road to respect began were many baseball careers begin — in the backyard, where he and his father David Geske would spend much of their time playing catch. Since Geske was 4 years old, that's been a constant. He played a lot of positions growing up, but he was drawn to pitching as soon as his age allowed it. Pitchers are involved in every play, Geske said, and as a natural competitor, he wanted to be as involved as possible. Plus, he already knew he had a strong arm.
It's that arm that makes Geske so effective now, he said, with his fastball being his most effective pitch. Besides the velocity, Geske's fastball runs inside toward right-handed hitters, and he's able to command it with precision.
Matthews said Geske's success has as much to do with his work ethic as his talent. Geske takes his practice sessions and strength workouts seriously, something not every player does. Matthews said the work Geske does outside of games allows him to relax during games. He knows he's ready and all he has to do is compete.
Geske suffered a wrist injury at the outset of the 2021 season that kept him out a few weeks, but since his return, he's pitched 23 innings and gone 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA, racking up 26 strikeouts. ODA has gone 17-3 overall and has a dynamic offense so with Geske back on the mound, ODA has a chance to be a contender in the postseason. The team's district tournament will begin 7 p.m. April 28 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Geske said the team has what it takes to go all the way.
"A lot of people think we're a small school that can't compare [to others]," Geske said. "We want to prove people wrong."
Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.