Jul. 22—Easton Fritcher's dream of playing college baseball will come true in a big way. The Hayfield standout announced on Thursday that he has committed to playing at the University of Minnesota.
Fritcher, who is 6-foot and 185 pounds, said it has always been his dream to play college baseball. And proximity was a factor in his decision to play at Minnesota.
"Definitely distance had a big play (in the decision) because I'm a big family guy so my family being able to come and watch me was a big factor," Fritcher said. "And also being a Minnesota guy, I always grew up wanting to be a Gopher. And they gave me so much and their facilities are so nice it was hard to say no."
— Fritcher selected All-Area Player of the Year
All-Area baseball team loaded with talented, college-bound players
Fritcher had been listening to other Division I offers from Arizona and schools in both North and South Dakota. He said his scholarship with the Gophers will cover about 55 to 60 percent of his tuition.
The left-handed hitting and throwing pitcher/outfielder is a five-tool player. He is coming off an outstanding junior season in which he helped Hayfield win the Class A state championship with a perfect 26-0 record.
And for Fritcher's exceptional all-around season at Hayfield, he was selected the Post Bulletin's All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.
"He's a guy who leads by example," Hayfield coach Kasey Krekling said. "He puts in a ton of time in the offseason, in the mornings, after practice. He's just a guy who is always putting in extra work to get better."
Fritcher batted a lofty .543 with eight doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 48 RBIs, 52 runs scored and 17 stolen bases in 2021. As a pitcher, he was 11-0 with a 1.55 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 49 innings. He was the winning pitcher in both the Class A state quarterfinals and the championship game.
He showed his power during the state tournament with a home run in St. Cloud in the quarterfinals and then with a long triple to right-center field in the championship game at Target Field.
He is projected as an outfielder with the Gophers, but will have an early opportunity to pitch as well.
"I am going in as a two-way (player) so I will do both to start," he said. "Who knows, I could go there and put on 15 pounds of muscle and throw 10 miles per hour harder."
Fritcher said his fastball currently peaks out in the mid 80s.
"If I'm sitting at low 90s or mid 90s as a lefty, maybe that's the route I'll go," Fritcher said. "But as of right now, they really project me to be a hitter and a fielder at the college level."
While Fritcher likes being in total control on the mound, he also really enjoys hitting, fielding and running the bases.
When he isn't pitching, the strong-armed Fritcher has played center field for Hayfield. He said he might be given a shot at Minnesota's starting right field position as a freshman.
"I'm going to have to earn it obviously, but they told me there's a pretty good chance I'll be able to start in the outfield my freshman year," he said.
Fritcher was also a starter on the Vikings' Class A state championship boys basketball team during the 2020-21 season. He showed his tenacity on the boards as he averaged more than 11 rebounds a game and had a whopping 29 in one state tournament contest.
This summer Fritcher is again playing for the top Minnesota Blizzard traveling team, which is based out of the Twin Cities.
When contacted on Thursday, Fritcher was — not surprisingly — off to play in a baseball tournament in Wisconsin with the Blizzard. He was also grateful to have made his college decision.
"It means a lot to me, I've been training my whole life," he said. "This is specifically why I signed up for the Minnesota Blizzard and I can't thank them enough. And I can't thank Hayfield enough for helping me develop as a player."
Today I proudly announce my commitment to the University of Minnesota, to grow as a student and to play the game I love. Big thanks to all my coaches/teammates and especially my parents who have helped me throughout my journey. Go gophers〽️@GopherBaseball pic.twitter.com/n90dFlEOWA
— therealeastonfritcher (@therealeastonf1) July 22, 2021