Jacob Tate saw his potential as a pitcher a long time ago.
So did his father, Scott.
Jacob was showing signs of being tall and strong. And he’s a left-hander.
Baseball and pithing became Jacob’s world.
“My dad was kind of telling me, ‘This is what you need to do,’ ” said Tate, a 2019 graduate of Christian Academy of Knoxville.
“I think like around seventh or eighth grade I started getting a lot better (as a pitcher) than I was before and I realized if I grew into my body I might be able to do something with it.”
He’s done both.
Tate now stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds. He signed with Kentucky and is on the Lexington, Ky., campus attending summer school and working out with the baseball team.
It’s all panned out. Like his dad told him it would.
“I like it a lot. It’s really nice (at Kentucky),” Tate said Thursday. “The coaches are really good. The kids are really nice and they’re good. I think we’re going to be good, too. It’s been everything I thought it would be so far.”
His career at CAK couldn’t have been scripted better.
Tate, the 5Star Preps player of the year, went 12-0 this spring with a 0.91 ERA as the Warriors (36-9) won the Division II-A state championship – their third state title in a row. Opposing batters hit .156 against Tate.
“He’s just hard to hit,” CAK coach Tommy Pharr said. “He’s not like a 90-miles-per-hour thrower or anything, but he’s mid-80s. He’s got a good change-up and a good breaking ball and his fastball moves a lot and is hard to hit. He doesn’t ever beat himself. He’s a pretty competitive kid too, so all that together makes him pretty good.”
Tate, who played first base when not pitching, hit .343 this spring with 16 doubles, eight homers and 51 RBIs.
Tate went the distance in CAK’s state tournament opener, throwing a nine-hitter in a 4-3 win over Christ Presbyterian Academy, walking one and striking out seven.
In the next game, Tate was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and scored three times in a 20-6 win over Goodpasture. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two doubles as CAK beat CPA, 3-2, in eight innings for the state championship.
“It was awesome,” Tate said of winning state again. “There’s probably not a lot of teams that have won it three years in a row, and being able to go out our last season and all the seniors getting to win one more time was really special.”
As a sophomore, Tate delivered the game-winning RBI single in the sixth inning of the Class AA state championship game, a 3-2 win over CPA.
“He’s been clutch forever,” Pharr said. “He’s always been pretty good in a big moment.”
Pharr believes Tate is just getting warmed up.
“He’s got a ton of upside,” Pharr said. “I think he’ll end up throwing harder. He works hard. He’s got a great frame, great body, and as he gets stronger and matures, I think he’ll throw harder and continue to improve.”
Tate has his goals set as he embarks on his college career.
His decision to focus on pitching has paid off.
“I want to do anything I can to help Kentucky hopefully win an SEC championship or (NCAA) regional,” Tate said, “and in three to four years the perfect scenario would be to get drafted and go to the minors and eventually go to (MLB) if it’s an option.”