Via Naple News last month -
As a freshman in high school, Chris Sale didn’t resemble a baseball player.
He stood just 5-foot-8. He weighed about 100 pounds.
“Growing up he was never the kind of kid that you could build the team around,” his father, Allen Sale, said.
Sale has certainly grown in all aspects.
Now he’s 6-foot-6. At a still slim 180 pounds, he anchors the Chicago White Sox starting pitching staff.
And he’s an All-Star.
At Lakeland High, Sale’s coaches saw potential in the skinny little left-hander but never imagined he’d be a major leaguer.
“His delivery was nice and loose with that lanky body, but he didn’t really throw all that hard, and he struggled with his control at the beginning,” said Ron Nipper, his junior varsity coach at Lakeland High. “I wish I could say that I knew it all along, but I really didn’t. He was just a good athlete with a decent arm who would likely be a varsity pitcher one day.”
Not much about Sale’s early high school career hinted at his future stardom.
He did grow four inches over the summer before his junior year. But for the most part he was just another big kid with a good arm — something that is almost as common in the state of Florida as saw palmetto bushes.
Perhaps the most memorable moments of his prep career were tape-measure home runs hit off him.
Winter Haven’s Jordan Schafer, who now plays for the Houston Astros, connected on one. And then there’s the 440-foot blast that current Pittsburgh Pirates and National League All-Star Andrew McCutchen hit during a game while playing for neighboring Fort Meade.
“I think it was closer to 475 feet,” Sale’s dad joked of McCutchen’s shot. “One of the scouts in attendance said it was the longest home run that was hit in the state that year. But Chris did strike him out earlier in the game, and I think that was one of only four strikeouts Andrew had that entire year.”
“Chris only got lit up by the best,” Nipper said.
Sale came into his own during his senior year. Still extremely lanky, Sale managed to add a few more pounds to his 6-4 frame, which also added a few miles per hour to his fastball. Sale also managed to refine his control. He only walked 11 batters that year compared to his 99 strikeouts. He even tossed a complete game in which he never threw a single ball outside of the strike zone.
“That summer before his senior year, he really blossomed,” his father said. “He grew up a lot.”
Imagine growing 10 inches in High School. Can you say “growth spurt”? By the way, how’s Andrew Brackman these days?