Prep Baseball Report

Wirtz Sees Bright Future Ahead At Lehigh

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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Wirtz Sees Bright Future Ahead At Lehigh

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Ian Wirtz C / OF / Choate Rosemary Hall, CT / 2024

CHESHIRE, Ct. - Ian Wirtz knew what he was looking for in a college.

“I wanted to go where I’m pushed and that will lead me down a great path,” the Choate Rosemary Hall High School senior said.

The 25th-rated 2024 catcher in New England believes he has found that at Lehigh University.

“My high school coach used to coach at Lafayette so he knows them from being in the league,” Wirtz reflected. “I had a good junior year of high school and (assistant) coach (Pat) Knight from Lehigh came to our last game. After that I went to a camp where the rest of the coaches saw me play.”

It was a perfect match.

“I fell in love with it,” Wirtz related. “For me, it’s the coaches. It’s the energy and the environment they create for the players along with the friendliness of all the coaches. Plus, school-wise I want to go into engineering and Lehigh is known for that.”

Additional Patriot League schools, Army and Bucknell, were also interested in the 5-11 190-pound backstop as well as Yale and Columbia from the Ivy League, but the first time Wirtz stepped on the campus in Bethlehem, Pa. he knew it was right for him, something that was pleasing to the Lehigh coaches.

“They enjoy my arm, I threw well at the camp,” Wirtz explained. “They also like my hitting, the fact I don’t strike out much and can drive the ball to all fields.”

It is behind the plate where the 11th-ranked senior catcher in Connecticut has made the most strides.

“I’ve always been a good hitter but not a good catcher defensively,” Wirtz admitted. “So I really worked on my arm and worked on blocking and receiving. With hitting I worked to get more strength and to get more consistency.”

Wirtz pointed to a number of individuals that were vital in his development.

“Jose Algeria, my catching and hitting coach, helped me a lot with my catching and becoming a better blocker, receiver and just better overall defensively,” Wirtz said. “He also helped me with my swing. Rymer Lirano, my hitting coach, helped me become better at hitting by being more consistent and helping me develop more power. Angel Salome, my strength and conditioning coach, helped me become more functionally stronger over the past two years and also helped with nutrition and hitting a little bit.

“My biggest supporters ever are my mom and dad,” Wirtz continued. “My mom is at all my games and is always there for me. My dad is at every game as well. He drives me to all my practice and games so much of my development comes from him.”

An additional year of seasoning proved beneficial in the baseball journey to Lehigh according to Wirtz.

“My sophomore year I was at Cheshire High School and I started to get better and better,” Wirtz reflected. “I started having a lot more confidence the year after that and knew it was definitely what I wanted to do. I ended up repeating junior year, I took the first one at Cheshire and the second one at Choate.”

It gave 55th-ranked 2024 in Connecticut time to learn more about recruitment.

“Sophomore year I didn’t know the process, but the summer going into my junior year at Cheshire I was invited to the Future Games,” Wirtz said. “There I was exposed to all the talent that’s out there. Knowing I can compete with them boosted my confidence and helped with my development. But it slowed down after I was there so I reclassified. It was still slow, but it picked up my junior year at Choate.”

To finally commit, admittedly, brought a lot of relief to the 18-year-old, who carries a 3.9 unweighted GPA at Choate.

“It’s a big weight off, I don’t have to worry about it senior year,” the 150th-rated 2024 in New England noted. “Now I can focus on academics and development.”

That is what Wirtz is doing now, all while anticipating a bright future at the university three hours from home.

“I’m looking forward to the team atmosphere and playing in front of crowds,” Wirtz concluded. “I can’t wait to be part of that elevated environment and the brotherhood of the team.”

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