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Athlete Worth Watching: Truman Thomas

Jul 24, 2015 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds

Southern High School, Baseball

After 22 years as an athletic director and coach at Southern High School, John Mayberry knows a good athlete when he sees one. And that’s certainly what he saw in recent Southern graduate Truman Thomas.

Mayberry is convinced Thomas could have been a standout in any sport he chose to play. He might have even been one of the best athletes ever at the Harwood school to play only one sport.

“He could have played football or basketball without any problem in the world and still been very good at it,” Mayberry says. “He works as hard as anybody.”

Thomas did in fact play three sports before high school: basketball, football, and soccer. And the allure of competitive sports almost got to Thomas during his final year of high school.

“I was thinking about playing other sports this year. I love other sports,” says Thomas, who transferred to Southern after his freshman year at DeMatha. “But I didn’t want to get hurt playing football. I was even thinking about trying out for basketball.”

It’s a good thing Thomas did decide to focus solely on baseball for his three years at Southern. And the 6-foot-2, 185-pound pitcher’s decision paid off: He will be playing baseball at the University of Maryland next season. Thomas can’t wait to play for the Terrapins, a team that made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year this spring.

The 18-year-old signed a letter of intent in November. “I have always wanted to go there,” says Thomas, who was a batboy for the Terrapins in 2006 when his next door neighbor, Brett Cecil, played for Maryland. “I had my eye set on only one college: Maryland. It was really a dream come true. Now that they are such an elite program, it makes it that much better.”

Maryland pitching coach Jim Belanger discovered Thomas by accident last fall. Belanger went to scout a younger teammate of Thomas, but after watching Thomas pitch for the Maryland Monarchs, he invited him to a Maryland prospects camp. That workout set up the Dunkirk resident to become a future Terp.

“I really liked his athleticism and he is very talented and mature,” Belanger says. “He fits what we are looking for. He has a really good arm and spin on his breaking ball. He peaked my interest with that.”

Thomas, a hard throwing right-hander, has an impressive four-pitch repertoire, which includes a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball (also called a cutter), a slider, and a change-up.

“Most other guys in high school are two-pitch pitchers,” Southern baseball coach Frank Hood says. “They throw a fastball and a breaking ball. Thomas has a fastball with a little extra pop, a two-seamer with a lot of sink to it, a change-up with fade action, and a hard, breaking slider.”  

Thomas’ demeanor and calmness on the mound are just as impressive as his variety of pitches.

“He has a bulldog mentality,” Hood says. “He says, ‘Give me the ball and let me do my thing.’ If something doesn’t go his way, he is like, ‘I got the next guy. I am not worried about it.’”

Thomas enjoyed a tremendous senior year, helping the Bulldogs become the first team in Maryland to win two consecutive state championships in 23 years. He went 5-1 with a 1.14 ERA and gave up only 21 hits in 49 innings while striking out 56 batters.

Thomas earned the win in Southern’s 6-1 triumph over Eastern Tech in the Class 2A state title game, striking out 10 batters in six innings and yielding only two hits and one run.

“He can pitch when it matters most,” Belanger says. “He has a really high baseball I.Q. and understands the game.” 

When Thomas, who graduated with a 3.5 grade point average, wasn’t on the mound, he shined from his shortstop position with a smooth glove and soft hands as a three-year starter.

“He makes the hard play look easy,” Hood says of Thomas, who batted .407 in his Southern career and led his team in batting average (.487) and RBIs (25) as a senior. “He has a great arm, tremendous range, and gets the ball most guys don’t.”