In spring 2020, Caden Vire, a tall, long and scrawny left-handed pitcher had yet to make his first high school varsity start, yet his junior season had just been canceled in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A strong entrance onto the Washington high school Class 4A stage, and ensuing summer and fall playing club, could have positioned him as one of the region’s top high school arms. He was uncertain — and nervous — about how pandemic shutdowns might impact his future.
Back then, being picked in the 2021 MLB Draft seemed like a long shot to the Vancouver, Wash. native and Skyview High School product.
On Tuesday, the 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher was taken in the 12th round of the 2021 MLB Draft (357th pick) by the Milwaukee Brewers, making him the only player from Washington picked straight out of high school
“I definitely did not expect to be in the position I’m in now” last year, Vire told SBLive Tuesday. “It’s obviously just surreal and super exciting that I have this opportunity.”
It sure helps that he had a shutdown senior high school season, logging a .56 ERA, 74 strikeouts and a 4-0 record to help the Storm go 17-0 and win both 4A Greater St. Helens League and district titles.
Starting — and dominating — on the high school stage led to a breakthrough in the way Vire approaches the game mentally.
“I but up a ton of confidence over this high school season,” he said. “I’m kind of going and doing my thing now.”
Vire has until Aug. 1 to decide whether to sign with the Brewers or play college baseball at Arizona State. He told SBLive he hasn’t made a decision yet, but there are several factors that point toward him leaning pro.
The Sun Devils fired their baseball coaching staff after the 2021 season. Former ASU standout Willie Bloomquist was hired away from the Diamondbacks’ front office to replace outgoing coach Tracy Smith and pitching coach Jason Kelly left for LSU.
The Brewers drafting Vire in the first place could signal the franchise’s confidence in him signing.
“We’ve still got to work a couple things out,” Vire said. “Arizona State is a great option for me, but so is going in the draft, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, play professional baseball. Just gotta kind of wait it out and see what happens.”
(Lead photo by Andy Buhler)