When it comes to the mental aspect of baseball, Lee University junior pitcher Logan Workman refuses to let anyone intimidate him.
Workman, a Soddy-Daisy High School graduate, excelled against some of the country's top college hitters last summer when he led the wooden bat Coastal Plains League in strikeouts and was regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 10 prospects in the CPL, which has 15 teams and covers four states (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia).
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander followed through this year by putting together what looked to be his breakthough season as a college starter before the Flames joined the long list of teams in leagues shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
After making 19 appearances with no starts as a freshman and starting six of 16 games in which he pitched as a sophomore — he totaled seven wins and as many saves as an underclassman — he allowed just one earned run in 42 innings while starting all six games in which he pitched for the Division II Flames this year. His 5-0 record, 0.21 ERA and opposing batting average of .091 made him one of the country's hottest pitchers this spring, and his refusal to back down to batters may have added to the air of domination.
"Coming into the season, my goal was to pound the strike zone," Workman said. "If you hit it, you hit it, and I will tip my cap. My demeanor is to go out there and dominate and not walk anyone. I am going to strike you out every time. And if you do hit it, I have eight guys behind me and a catcher in front of me that is going to get you out just as quick as I will."
With an approach that brings to mind three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, Workman boasts a fastball that has reached 97 mph. Workman relied primarily on that speed and a changeup his first two college seasons, but he has added a hard, sharply breaking slider and developed stellar command that has allowed him to effectively deceive hitters.
Mixing it up
Workman also said that early this season he and Lee pitching coach Richie Goodenow made a strategic decision that has made a difference, electing to "start pitching backwards to hitters if they are sitting on a certain pitch."
"In counts where they want to see a fastball, we would throw a slider or changeup," Workman explained. "Being able to consistently throw all three pitches for strikes helped me open my arsenal and ability to get hitters out easier."
Workman, who allowed fewer hits (12) than walks (16) this year, ended the abbreviated season leading the Gulf South Conference in wins, ERA and strikeouts (53).
The Flames' final game of 2020 was a 10-5 nonconference home win against Young Harris on March 11, but Workman's final appearance was another strong impression five days earlier to open a GSC weekend series at Valdosta State. He was nearly perfect in the 8-0 victory, a complete game in which he posted a career-high 12 strikeouts and issued no walks. The only runner he allowed reached on a third-inning single through the right side of the infield.
Workman has the build to eat innings on the mound and proved it in a limited fashion this year, when he went at least seven innings in four of his six starts, allowed just one hit in three starts and didn't allow more than four hits in any outing.
After touching 90 mph as a Soddy-Daisy senior, his fastball now consistently ranges from 91 to 94; the addition of the slider has helped, too. In three college seasons, batters have hit just .182 against him.
"Getting into the weight room helped me a lot with my velocity," Workman said. "Until my freshman year, I never followed a certain throwing program, but that's when I started doing PlyoCare throwing drills. Throwing the weighted balls along with cutting down reps and going up in weight has really improved my power from freshman year to now."
Major League Baseball teams have taken notice of his progress and success, and Workman has already interviewed with several scouts and hopes to be drafted this summer.
Another MLB hopeful from the Chattanooga area is Georgia Bulldogs sophomore pitcher Cole Wilcox, a former Heritage High School star who is expected to be a first-round pick this year. Wilcox was 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA, 32 strikeouts and two walks in 23 innings before the NCAA canceled the rest of the season.
Wilcox and Workman, though, are dealing with anything but a typical year for baseball — on or off the diamond. One ripple effect of the pandemic is that the typical 40-round draft could have as few as five rounds this year, though many franchises have expressed they want to have at least 10 rounds.
"We will see what happens with the draft," Workman said. "I have worked towards this since I was really young. I don't think I have had a spring break since I was 9. This is a lifestyle I have grown accustomed to and love. I tell every team I will give them everything I can to be the best baseball player, pitcher and person. All I need is an opportunity."
Workman's potentially high ceiling means he could certainly be a steal for any of the 30 MLB teams.
For now, he continues to keep his arm loose by throwing three to five times per week and is building back strength by doing home workouts. When baseball returns, Workman wants to be ready in both body and mind.
"You have to have that pit bull mentality every time you are on the mound," Workman said. "I trust everyone playing around me and myself. However many innings you give me, I am going to go out and dominate and give all I've got."