SPOKANE, Wash. — Former Gonzaqa pitcher Sam Hellinger is now a Spokane Indians baseball player.
It's been quite the journey for him. He wasn't sure if he was going to play baseball again after Gonzaga. He wasn't taken in the MLB Draft in 2017.
"I was a good college pitcher," Hellinger said. "But I didn't have the velocity so I didn't have the chance to play pro ball."
“His dreams seemed shot until he met pitching coach Cody Aden. Ironically, Aden is now also with the Spokane Indians.”
"I actually coached him in 2017 with the Seattle Stud,s it's a collegiate summer team over in Seattle," Aden said. "So after he finished up at Gonzaga. We recruited him to come play for us that summer."
After that summer, Aden encouraged Hellinger to go to Driveline baseball. Driveline is a training facility that helps pitchers up their velocity through various training methods.
"He definitely ticked up," Aden said. "When he played for me in 2017 he was 87 or 88 most of the time and he showed some low mid 90s."
Hellinger started taking videos of his new pitching abilities and then posted this one to social media.
"It was good velocity, the best I ever had," Bellinger said. "It was one of those days I really clicked. All three pitches were working."
The traction it gained online caught the eyes of several scouts. One of those calls came from the Indians affiliate the Texas Rangers. They offered him a deal.
That's how Hellinger returned to Spokane.
"It's crazy to think about. Signing with the Rangers I never put two and two together that Spokane was the rookie ball, so that just makes it better, "Hellinger said. "Once I signed I got all my ex-teammates and coaches asking if I was going to be in Spokane, excited to see each other and it'll be fun to see everyone again."