RHAM sophomore Baig opening eyes on the baseball diamond
May 6—When Fayz Baig started playing baseball as a 9-year-old in Marlborough, he wasn't getting a lot of playing time.
That changed a year later, when a realization set in for the lefthander when he was on the pitching mound.
"I started to make rapid improvement," Baig said this week. "Being able to have more playing time motivated me to continue and enjoy this sport."
Fast forward five years, and the 6-foot-3, 195-pound RHAM High sophomore is starting to open up some eyes when he's on the mound and at the plate.
According to scouting service Perfect Game, Baig is rated the No. 13 prospect in Connecticut and the state's No. 2 lefthanded pitcher in the recruiting class of 2025.
Raptors coach Bill Eller has seen the strides the righty-hitting Baig has made from his freshman to sophomore season.
"Fayz puts in a ton of time off the field to get both stronger and faster," said Eller, in his second season with the varsity at RHAM after longtime coach Paul Steiner stepped down in 2021. "During his freshman season, he did not miss a single weight-room session. It's evident how his newfound strength is making a difference in the field."
Last fall, Baig tied with Dover, N.H. senior Alex Cook for the top exit velocity (87 mph) at the Fall Connecticut Showcase in East Hartford.
One reason for the improved bat speed is due in part to continuing to learn hip-to-shoulder separation on the mound through drills provided by Tread Athletics.
Baig spends the off-season going through extensive workouts — around 90 minutes, 5-6 days a week — where he focuses on mobility along with strength through powerlifting. Parts of those sessions are posted on his social media timelines.
There is also a video online from 2021, when Baig connected for a 400-foot home run at Loan Depot Park in Miami (the home of the Marlins) in a home run derby at the 14U Power Showcase.
As a freshman, Baig hit .270 with 15 RBIs and seven doubles. Entering this week, Baig was hitting .543 (19-for-35) with three home runs and 17 RBIs.
Last month, one of those homers — a two-run shot — tied Tolland at 16-all in the sixth in a wild CCC East game that saw RHAM rally for a 17-16 victory. One week later, Baig went 5-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs in a 12-0 win at East Catholic.
What does Eller see has Baig's biggest strength?
"It's his confidence," Eller said of Baig, who DHs or plays first if he's not pitching. "When he takes the field Fayz knows that he can compete with anybody."
Baig will have quite a busy summer.
It will begin almost immediately after the conclusion of the high school season, when he will attend the Perfect Game junior national showcase in Marietta, Georgia.
Baig was given an invitation after taking part in the Northeast Indoor Showcase in Farmingdale, N.J. in February and making the Top Prospect List.
The report on perfectgame.org from that showcase says Baig stands out physically, with a "fast and loose" arm and a fastball that topped out in the mid 80's mixed in well with a slider that overmatched hitters consistently.
What does Baig learn from those experiences?
"I like competing and showing the work that I have put in on a daily basis," Baig said. "That allows me to judge my progress on a monthly and yearly basis."
One week later, Baig will take part in the 16U USA team trials in Cary, N.C. with Tennessee-based Wow Factor Baseball, which is nationally recognized as one of the top player development and college placement organizations in the country.
From those trials, which includes the top 12 travel teams across the United States, several players will be selected for further training with an opportunity to be selected to play for Team USA.
Following the trials, Baig take part in the WWBA 16U National Championships in Georgia and in July will be playing in the Perfect Game 16U World Series in Sanford, Fla.
"It's very competitive with several players that are highly-ranked nationally," Baig said. "That motivates and challenges me to match their skill."
Baig said he's heard from some colleges and plans on attending camps at those schools, which he did not mention by name. He will wait until after the summer to start seriously looking at colleges.
One of his freshman highlights was a 6 1/3-inning pitching stint at Avon, where he allowed two hits and struck out 10 in a 2-1 victory. That ended a stretch where he won three of his first five games on the mound for the Raptors. This year, Baig has 27 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.
RHAM was 15-5 in the regular season last year and the No. 5 seed in Class L tourney. It was the team's most regular-season wins since 2012, when it went 17-3 and advanced to the Class L semis, where it lost to eventual champion Fitch. But thoughts of a possible deep postseason run were dashed quickly in a 6-2 first-round loss to No. 28 Pomperaug.
It's a loss that has motivated the Raptors.
"We unfortunately lost that game," Baig said. "This year, collectively we're all motivated to contribute and coming through in clutch moments that will lead to team success."