By Robbie Loeb
Catcher Arden Pabst ’13 committed to play baseball at Georgia Tech on Sept. 20. Pabst is now the first college-bound member of the junior class.
“I put it on Facebook and a lot of people are congratulating me at school,” Pabst said. “It feels pretty awesome. It’s exciting, and I don’t have to worry about college applications or anything, so it’s pretty cool.”
Pabst visited the campus over the weekend of Sept. 16-18 and then verbally committed on the following Tuesday night. He will sign next year during the signing period in November.
“I felt really confident in my decision,” Pabst said. “Maybe if I had waited another year I could have gotten more offers, but the fact that they offered me so early means they really want me. I’m going to a place where I’m going to play and where they want me, and I really couldn’t have asked for anything better than Georgia Tech.”
It has been an eventful summer for Pabst since he won a Mission League title and led the Wolverines with a .434 batting average last season. He won a gold medal for the USA 16U National Team at the International Baseball Federation World Youth Championships in Mexico. He made the 20-man roster following a six-day trial period in North Carolina.
“They saw me in North Carolina for the USA trials and I played strong there,” Pabst said. “They really liked me so they got in touch with me. I talked to [Georgia Tech Head] Coach [Danny Hall] and he said, look, we really want you and we really like you. There was no hesitation on that and I really liked that.”
Pabst was deciding between Georgia Tech and UCLA before ultimately opting to head east to Atlanta.”I talked to [Head Coach] Matt LaCour a lot,” Pabst said.
“I talked to an old travel ball coach that I keep in touch with, Sean Thompson, who has done this with a lot of guys, I talked to my dad and I made sure that I talked to as many coaches as I could to get their take on the situation. I like the coach at Georgia Tech and I like how at Georgia Tech the baseball field is on the campus. Also, Georgia Tech is a baseball school. They’re a powerhouse.”
The most recent USA Today/ESPN Baseball Top 25 Coaches’ Poll rated Georgia Tech 20th in the nation as of June 29.
In his 17 years coaching the Yellow Jackets, Hall has compiled a 690-334 record while leading them to 13 years of NCAA regional play and the only three College World Series appearances in the school’s history. The team has won four Atlantic Coast Conference season titles and three ACC tournament titles under Hall.
“I think the ACC is the best conference,” Pabst said. “I mean, ACC and Pac-12, you could argue for both, but I kind of want to get out of California and be playing against schools like Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami, because they’re heavy competition.”
Pabst’s teammate Lucas Giolito ’12 also committed as a junior last year and is expected to take the mound for UCLA next season.
“I didn’t know if I could make a decision that early, but I felt an immediate click with [UCLA] and that baseball program,” Giolito said. “When [Pabst] stepped on the campus at Georgia Tech, he had that same type of click. It may seem early in the year, but when you make a connection with a school’s program and coaches, it’s pretty easy to make the decision that early.”
Mike Nickeas of the New York Mets, Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox and Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles are former Yellow Jacket catchers who now play in the major leagues.Pabst sees the MLB somewhere in his future, but he still has two full seasons as a Wolverine before he’ll trade in his red and black for old gold and white. If he continues to improve at the rate he has, however, he may be faced with the decision of whether or not to skip college altogether and head straight for the pros.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Pabst said. “But hopefully I’ll get good enough to where that will be a decision that I am going to have to make.”