Decker Shines Early

The annual high school preview edition hadn’t even finished going to press before a prospect made headlines.

Jaff Decker, an outfielder/lefthander from Sunrise Mountain High in Peoria, Ariz. took the mound Wednesday against Glendale’s Deer Valley High in front of a few dozen scouts, and threw a no-hitter in the season opener.

"It was pretty impressive," said Decker’s coach, Mike Gardner. "He just dominated the whole game."

Gardner’s plan was to have Decker throw five innings, or his 80-pitch limit and then take him out. But when the fifth inning arrived, he was still in the low-60s, so he stuck with him. Decker racked up 10 strikeouts and walked three in the outing. He even had a couple innings where it only took six pitches to retire the side.

Decker, an Arizona State recruit, sat comfortably at 91 mph for most of the game and peaked at 93, Gardner said. Decker threw about 75 percent fastballs, but also has a curveball and changeup in his arsenal. Gardner added that Decker is a prospect as a position player, but has been impressive off the mound.

"He’s become a power pitcher for high school," he said. "He uses the changeup to set up his fastball. He actually has two curveballs. One is a biting curve that he throws hard for strikes. Another is a flipper that he uses if he has a big swinger up. It’s an out pitch when he wants to use it."

Sunrise Mountain ranks No. 45 in the Baseball America preseason Top 50 poll.