A travel agent should get overtime pay for handling Clint Coulter's
The 18-year-old has logged more time on the road than a presidential candidate.
Last summer, as part of the Bobby Valentine All-American wood bat team, Coulter played in Connecticut, down the east coast, through the southeast, southwest and worked his way west to California before finally returning home in Camas, Wash.
He also played in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Prior that he played in the Area Code Games in Southern California and still found some time to play for the local Vancouver Cardinals.
On a few occasions, Coulter took a break from his road odyssey to return home, but was on the road more times than not.
"I could probably count on my two hands how many times I slept in my own bed last summer," Coulter said, who once hit five straight home runs in Little League.
Likely, his travels are just beginning.
Considered one of the top professional prospects in the United States, Coulter will be showcasing his talents almost daily until the June 4 Major League Baseball Draft, where he will be in attendance in New York. MLB invites up to 60 highly regarded prospects to attend the draft, and Coulter's name is high on the list.
"It's an honor to be invited to the draft," said Coulter, a catcher for Union (Vancouver, Wash.)
. "To be there is an experience few get. I will remember this forever."
During the next two weeks, he will be in the Midwest, East Coast, California and Washington. He'll work out with the Twins, Cardinals, Padres, Brewers, Mariners, Dodgers and others as he crisscrosses the country and earns frequent flyer miles.
After his June 3 workout with the Dodgers, he will take an overnight flight to New York to be in attendance for the Major League Draft on June 4. He'll return home to Washington where he'll spend his final week of high school preparing for his June 11 graduation.
Coulter says he's "young" and isn't worried about the travel.
"I've never had a problem with travel and I'm not feeling any pressure (from my schedule). I love it all," said Coulter, who also plays outfield. "It's a lot easier to have the spotlight on you when you are performing than it is trying to get the spotlight on you while you are performing. I thrive on the pressure, being in the spotlight. That's what I want. It's fun."
Coulter, at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, is expected to be an early-round draftee. Depending with which scout you speak with, he is ranked anywhere from the Top 30 to the Top 100. MLB's Draft Central has Coulter ranked 48th in its Top 100 prospects. Baseball Northwest has him the No. 2-ranked Northwest baseball player behind Oregon's Carson Kelly.
His high school coach, former Major League catcher Tom Lampkin, said he "Can't believe there are 30 kids in the country with Clint's physical and mental makeup. He's worked hard to get where he is and that is to put himself in position to play professional baseball."
Playing professional baseball has always been a dream for Coulter. To hear "people in the know" expound upon his abilities is humbling, yet very gratifying for the son of Sherry and Cliff Coulter.
"It's exciting that people are saying things like that," said Coulter, who was a standout last summer in the Area Code Games, as well as playing on Bobby Valentine's traveling All-American team.
People have been saying "nice" things about Coulter for a number of years. As a matter of history, it was a number of "nice" letters that led Coulter to a life-changing decision following his sophomore year in high school.
As a sophomore, Coulter won the 189-pound wrestling title in Washington's largest division. He lost one match out of 40.
"The loss was a fluke, but a good lesson for me," Coulter recalled.
He followed that state title with an All-State baseball honor where as a sophomore reliever he was clocked at 93 mph. He was also a hard-hitting catcher rapidly gaining attention.
"I knew I had to make a decision (between baseball and wrestling)," said Coulter, recently named the Greater St. Helens Player of the Year for the second-straight season. "So, I invited my wrestling coach over to the house and showed him all the baseball letters I received. I had just won a wrestling state title, was team captain and still had two years left. But he totally understood my decision and has been supportive ever since."
Coulter said he has never looked back at his decision, noting that he would never change a thing.
"Things happen for a reason. I mean, sure I would have liked to have played football and wrestled, but baseball is everything to me," said Coulter, who has signed to take his 3.75 grade point average to Arizona State on a baseball scholarship. "I've worked hard to get to where I am and it is paying off."
Much of that hard work has been delayed by the Northwest weather. Union played just 14 games this season, but Coulter hit .517, stole 18 bases, hit four home runs and drove in 18 runs. And with 18 walks, he rarely saw a good pitch to hit.
Despite finishing fourth in league and a shortened season, Coulter is a finalist for Washington's Gatorade Player of the Year.
He also credits much of his success on the baseball field to his success on the wrestling mat.
"Wrestling has taught me to control my emotions," said Coulter. "It's so important being level-minded and being yourself. You have to stay on that straight line. If you're always hustling, you can never go wrong."
Despite his busy schedule, Coulter has continued to "hustle" daily. He does something to get better every day. He hits in his private cage at home, does yoga, runs and lifts weights.
"I'm staying in shape," he said. "I'm not going overboard, but staying in shape."
Despite playing and practicing with scouts watching his daily moves, Coulter said the process has gone by quickly. For some, the travel and physical and psychological testing would be daunting.
It's part of the process and the hard work, and sacrifices are paying dividends.
The sacrifices include working out when friends aren't(working out.
"You don't see me at parties or out with friends, I'm usually working out. I don't go to many school functions, though I'm very school spirited. But I'm usually doing something baseball-wise."
A lot of that "something" is working often with Lampkin.
Lampkin, who played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues and caught for the 2001 Mariners team that won 116 games, said he can't take any credit for Coulter's success.
"He works hard. He has prepared himself for this time in his life," said Lampkin. "He is very committed to making himself the best baseball player he can be."
Lampkin noted that he has not seen a player with Coulter's physical package and mental makeup, not at 18 years of age, anyway.
"I played with the best baseball players in the world. I played with first round draft picks and this kid has all the tools. He has everything they had, but he also has more maturity," said Lampkin. "The sky is the limit for Clint."
An 11th round draft choice in 1986, Lampkin said he sees Coulter as a first round pick, but quickly adds, "what do I know. I'm just a high school coach locked up here in the Northwest. I'm not a scout and I'm not a front office guy, but he's so far above anyone I've seen and so far beyond what I was."
Obviously, with 13 big league seasons, Lampkin is far more than "just a high school coach." He has spent countless hours working with Coulter on making adjustments and learning the complexities of pitching and catching.
"It's been enjoyable working with someone who is actually capable of executing the things I can teach him. He's a sponge," said Lampkin. "We talk pitch selection and making adjustments when the batters make adjustments. We talk about the game getting faster as you get older and again, making adjustments, and handling all the things that go with the game at the next level."
Lampkin noted that adjustments just aren't on the field, but there "is crap in the clubhouse, dealing with media, personality issues, ups and downs with playing 162 games in 181 days and all the travel."
About the only people traveling more than Coulter these days are professional athletes.
Coulter's 2011 summer was much like what the travel season would be like for a minor league baseball player. Long bus rides, hotel stays, eating on the run, yet competing on a daily basis.
But like Coulter said, "things happen for a reason." Which is why he will be in New York on June 4.