Piketon's Zach Farmer Emerges as Top 2013 Prospect

By Chris Valentine


Piketon, Ohio is a small village with a population that teeters around 2,000 people.

Recently, the local citizens have started to see some new faces around town. That sort of thing happens when your local high school baseball team features a 16 year-old southpaw that is touching 92 miles per hour on the radar gun.

Zach Farmer (6-4, 175) is quickly becoming known as one of the nation?s top prospects in the 2013 class. The dominating left-handed pitcher relies on a fastball that has touched 92 miles per hour this spring. Occasionally, he mixes in an array of off-speed pitches, including a slider, curveball, and changeup.

Gene Bumgardner, Farmer?s high school coach, remembers hearing about the youngster from his cousin, who is a local umpire. At the time, Farmer was only 14 years old, so Bumgardner didn?t put much merit into the rumors. Now, he recalls, ?I will be darn. He stepped on the scene and has gotten so much better.?

When discussing Farmer?s development, Bumgardner notes, ?He?s gone from overpowering batters to understanding how to pitch. He just keeps getting better.?

Overpowering batters is an understatement.

Through May 22nd, the southpaw has struck out 128 batters on the season. Last week, in the district semifinals, Farmer struck out 17 batters in 6 innings of work. Later in the week, he struck out 9 of 12 batters in relief to help his team win a district championship.

Despite those numbers, Bumgardner stresses the importance of limiting Farmer?s pitch count. He says, ?Early in the season, we lost a couple games in the league because we were protecting his arm with pitch counts.? Furthermore, he notes, ?As a coach, you never want to be the guy that ruins a kid?s arm.?

With all the attention on the high schooler, Bumgardner and Zach?s father, a military veteran and an assistant coach at Piketon, are working to shelter him from the phone calls and attention.

?Nowadays, so many people will use the young kids up. We need to protect him,? says the Head Coach.

Still, the phone keeps ringing with top college programs, Major League baseball scouts, and nationally recognized travel baseball programs such as the Midland Redskins and East Cobb.

For now, Bumgardner stresses, ?We just want to help him stay a kid.?