Former Gorloks pitcher Josh Fleming helped guide the Montgomery Biscuits to a 3-1 victory in the first start of his Double A career.
The win proved helpful in pushing the Biscuits to a strong 2-0 start to the season. Fleming’s success has also become a key point in the recruiting process of Gorloks Head Coach Bill Kurich.
Fleming’s first official start came on April 5 against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The 2017 Division III Pitcher of the Year recorded six innings and allowed only a single earned run. A rare Division III draftee in pro baseball, he said there were no nerves in his first start.
“I wouldn’t say nervous. More just anxious and ready to get out there, and show what I could do,” Fleming said. “I was definitely pumped-up, adrenaline was going. All I have to say is that it was awesome. It was a dream come true to step on that mound.”
Fleming’s pitching helped push the Gorloks to a 29-15 record in his final season with the team, including a 8-1 personal record in pitched games.
Webster’s 2017 baseball team played in the NCAA Division III Central Region tournament for just the 11th time in school history, according to the university website.
That summer, The Tampa Bay Rays selected Fleming in the fifth round with the 139th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, He became the first SLIAC player to be selected since 1998. The first player was Ryan Bauer of Fontbonne University.
Webster University’s men’s baseball team continued to reap benefits of their recruiting after losing Fleming, knowing they helped him get to the next level.
Kurich said the team uses Fleming’s progress as an example to help the them recruit new talent. He also said Fleming impressed him with his commitment to working.
“Josh is a player who had plenty of God-given talent,” Kurich said. “But, he added to that by getting in the weight room and working at his weaknesses. He put those gifts to good use.”
Fleming offered a similar response in return, saying he did not do anything different from the average pitcher. He said he used the philosophy of being the first man to get to practice and the last to leave as being a driving factor behind his success.
Fleming offered advice as to how prospective players should take to their training, both mentally and physically.
“Obviously, you’ve got to eat, you’ve got to work out, get bigger, faster, stronger. Trust what you’ve got,” Fleming said. “There’s a reason you’re playing college ball. If you trust your stuff and go out and attack your hitters, everything will work out.”
The Gorloks brought in 11 new players this season including four pitchers.
Junior pitcher Matt Mulhearn, a two-time All-SLIAC First Team member and captain of the team, said Fleming inspired him to be a better pitcher.
“Josh is and was a great mentor,” Mulhearn said. “I was very fortunate to play with him. Even now, Josh helps me to improve as a pitcher.”
Fleming remains the only baseball player from Webster University to be selected in the MLB Draft. He was one of only 12 Division III players selected in the 2017 draft. He said that only adds to his motivation to prove himself.
“You don’t really see many D-III athletes in pro ball, so that was a big motivation,” Fleming said. “ I wanted to prove to people that I belonged, and that I’m not just a fluke. My biggest motivation was just to push myself harder than I ever pushed myself before.”