Athlete of the week: University High School senior pitcher’s velocity drawing attention by MLB scouts


It’s easy for University High School senior pitcher Jake Hooker to pinpoint the biggest improvement of his career.

Fastball velocity, he said.

Trailblazers coach Chris Estep said Hooker’s fastball has been clocked as high as 95 mph this season.

AA ATHLETE OF THE WEEK 0523 pic 1“Every year, his velocity has climbed and climbed,” Estep said. “He has a really good slider and a nice changeup.”

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander also plays shortstop for University. Although his college future is as a pitcher, Hooker was recruited as a two-way player by Xavier University.

“I’ve put on 15 to 20 pounds since junior season,” said the Zionsville resident, who also credits work in the weight room for his added strength.

As of May 15, Hooker had a 3-3 record with a 2.77 earned run average. He was hitting .270 with four homers.

“I started off slow (hitting) this year,” Hooker said. “I’ve been able to turn it on recently and heat up at the plate.”

Hooker struck out 12 and gave up only one earned run in six innings in a 4-0 loss to Cathedral.

“He was outstanding in that game,” Estep said. “He’s had a tremendous career for us.”

Last season, Hooker had a 3-2 record with a 1.82 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. He hit .405 with three homers.

“You couldn’t ask for a better player and better kid,” Estep said.

Hooker, who plans to major in finance at Xavier, also is drawing strong interest from Major League Baseball scouts. He chose Xavier over the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan. The MLB Draft is set for July 9-11. Prior to the season, Hooker was listed as No. 224 on Prospects Live’s top 2023 MLB Draft prospects.

Hooker said his goal is to play professional baseball, whether that comes next season or after attending Xavier.

“It’s tricky, but it has to happen before you really think about it,” Hooker said of what his draft position would need to be for him to forego his scholarship. “It just depends on the dollar amount and those things.”

Hooker said the Trailblazers can make a run at the IHSAA Class 2A state title.

“Our bats need to come alive a little bit, but  me and our other senior (Seth Hogg) are pretty dominant on the mound and we feel we can pretty much pitch to anybody,” Hooker said. “If we can score some runs, we’ll be fine and be able to make a long run, hopefully.”

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