UB’s Logan Harasta takes closer role with pro potential
The first things that jump out when watching Logan Harasta are his height and his fastball.
Harasta, a junior right-handed pitcher, is 6-foot-6 and his fastball tops out at 95 miles per hour and lives in the low 90s.
He has all the tools. Respected prospect publication Baseball America ranked him as the fifth best MLB prospect in the MAC on their preseason list. With a good showing this season, he has a chance to be UB’s highest drafted pitcher since Robert Williams went in the seventh round back in 1986. UB head baseball coach Ron Torgalski anticipates that Harasta will be selected in the first 10-15 rounds.
But in baseball, tools will only get you so far. Harasta is turning into one of the conference’s most coveted pitching prospects not only for his physical tools, but also for his mentality.
Torgalski named Harasta the closer for this season – one of the most pressure-packed roles in baseball.
“He wants the ball,” Torgalski said. “There are guys that are real good that don’t want to be in those situations, they’ll shy away from it… and that’s something you don’t teach, a kid either has that or he doesn’t and Logan has that.”
Harasta says he embraces the pressure because it brings out the best in him. The mental aspect of pitching is something Harasta has worked to progress since he arrived at UB.
“When kids come in here they’re used to having success and when they get to this level and they start experiencing failure, a lot of times they don’t know how to handle it,” Torgalski said. “When he came in he was like that, he would give up a couple of hits and you could tell he was frustrated and beating himself up. As he’s grown older and he’s matured that’s gone away.”
When he was a freshman, Harasta was the youngest starting pitcher on the Bulls staff. Like many young pitchers, he struggled with his mindset on the mound, but coming into his junior year, that’s no longer a problem.
“I try to be really confident so that I’m making my pitches,” Harasta said. “If I make my best pitch and they hit the ball, that’s just baseball. I try to focus on what I can control rather than what else is going on around me.”
Harasta is an exercise science major. He was named to the Academic All-MAC team last season and he feels that as a pitcher, the major helps immensely with his mechanics.
“I’m really interested in the human body and how it moves and stuff like that,” Harasta said. “We’re learning about stuff like what creates stress on certain joints and it’s definitely helped me pitching wise.”
For an athlete who’s pro potential is obvious, one would expect Harasta to be completely focused on making his MLB dreams come true. However, this past summer, he opted to skip out on playing in a summer baseball league because he wanted to take a class for his major that was only offered in the summer.
Although he is well aware of the hype building for him among scouts, he tries to shift his focus. He said he knows how difficult it is to make a career out of baseball, since most drafted prospects never make it all the way to the MLB.
But there is belief among scouts and Harasta himself that there is still untapped velocity in his arm.
As a tall, lanky kid, Harasta is still growing into his body. As a mid-week starter his freshman year, he was typically throwing in the 83-85 mile per hour range with his fastball. Now, he throws it in the low-90s with consistency. If he were to raise his velocity a few more ticks, the potential would be astronomical. It’s not very often a tall pitcher throws a fastball in the high-90s.
Harasta received offers from big name schools like Boston College and Virginia Tech out of high school, but opted for UB because he felt they had a good strength and conditioning program here.
“I was a pretty thin kid coming out of high school and I wanted to get into the weight room,” Harasta said. “[UB] had a great strength and conditioning program, all our guys are really physically fit and they know their stuff and I thought that was a good way to develop my career.”
In addition to his fastball, his other “out pitch” is a slider that typically sits around the low-to-mid 80s. He also throws a changeup and curveball.
Harasta studies the human body in his education. He understands that his physical tools must be developed and he knows how to develop them. Most of all, he has that one characteristic that not every physically gifted player possesses – in the highest pressure situations, he wants the ball in his hand.
“Baseball’s a game of failure,” Torgalski said. “The guys that succeed are the guys that can overcome the failure and continue to compete.”
Michael Akelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org