Sometimes, Ryan Hagenow misses stepping into the batter’s box.
Well more than a year has passed since he last logged an official at-bat during a varsity game.
Once a shortstop, Hagenow’s path in baseball offered him more of a future throwing pitches rather than hitting and fielding them.
As the highly touted Class of 2020 prospect from Farragut High School matured physically and subsequently grew into his role as the ace pitcher for the vaunted Admirals baseball program, his time at the plate waned.
“Any (pitcher only) who says he doesn’t miss it is lying,” Hagenow said with a laugh about his former offensive days.
But when you’re 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds with a career trajectory likely headed for professional baseball, you hone your craft on the mound and rely on your teammates’ bats to complement your efforts. No need in hurting a hamstring trying to stretch a single into a double.
And for Hagenow and Farragut, it worked out just that way this past season. He proved durable, and the Admirals won their 10th state title in program history.
Hagenow — the 2019 5Star Preps Pitcher of the Year — finished his junior season with a 12-1 record and 1.08 ERA, striking out 96 in 68 2/3 innings.
Farragut won the Class AAA state championship behind a stellar showing by Hagenow in the finale.
The Kentucky commitment pitched a complete-game, four-hitter and struck out 11 against Bradley Central. He retired the side the final four innings, striking out the sides in the fourth and the seventh innings.
“His last pitch of the game was 90-91 (miles per hour),” said Farragut coach Matt Buckner. “He just went into another gear.”
All told, Hagenow went 5-0 in the postseason with 35 strikeouts, five walks, a 0.94 ERA and three complete games. Being on the varsity team as a freshman and sophomore and watching the Admirals lose close games in the state sectional rounds of 2017 and 2018 made indelible impressions upon Hagenow, motivating him to make sure those losses don’t happen again.
He wanted to be the No. 1 arm to lead Farragut through those pressure-packed situations.
“A lot of people say they want to be the guy. But you could just sense it all year that he was going to be the guy. I felt like he was going to be that guy who could carry us there,” said Buckner. “I’ve seen those guys before: the Pfeifers, the Rabys, the Catapanos, the Cobbs. Nick Williams.
“Those guys. I just felt like it was coming with him the whole time. He’s the whole package. He can spin it good. He can throw a change-up. He’s big. He’s long. He’s been super durable. We prepared him well for the end. … But you still have to be The Man, and you still have to do it. He was ready for the challenge.”
It didn’t happen by chance. Hagenow refined the edges of his game along with his physique, as he has finally grown into his frame. His velocity climbed with each passing season of varsity baseball.
And he’s already making the leap to his final high school season.
He’s jumped roughly 200 spots into the Top 50 of Perfect Game’s top national prospects for 2020 after striking out all six batters he faced on June 14 at the Perfect Game Nationals in Arizona.
He’s already hearing from Major League scouts.
Meanwhile, Hagenow is keeping his focus on improving his body frame and his overall baseball I.Q., knowing the more profound strategies and intricacies of the game and having a better awareness and sense of what his opponents are doing.
“The thing that’s changing for me mostly is: learning how to pitch, rather than just throwing it by dudes,” Hagenow said. “In the summer, in that Perfect Game stuff, it’s not like high school. It’s like a bunch of all-star teams. You can’t just throw fastballs and rely on a slider every once in a while.
“Commanding all three pitches and focusing on hitting the inside and outside corners and just changing up what I’m doing is the main thing.”
Don’t expect Hagenow to get an ego with all the newfound attention, though.
His humility and work ethic are his calling cards.
“You won’t have to worry about keeping him grounded. He’s always going to go out and do the right thing,” Buckner said. “He’s a great kid. Tremendous competitor.
“He has great composure, too. A real even-keeled kid who really keeps things in perspective. He comes from a great family and he’ll work his end off. … He’ll have a chance to pitch for a long, long time.”