A year away creates a prospect today

By Emily Leclair

April 13, 2016

One would assume that a pitcher who was ranked No. 100 on Baseball America’s College Top 100 Draft Prospects would be recruited for baseball. For sophomore Lake Bachar, that was not the case.

Bachar chose to attend UW-Whitewater to be a kicker for the football team and not use his arm that got him noticed by minor league scouts.

Bachar has been a two-sport athlete at UW-Whitewater since the 2015 season of baseball, when he decided that he wanted to get back to the sport he played through high school.

“I definitely missed the sport,” Bachar said. “I took the year off and didn’t know if I still had it, and then I played summer ball, and then after summer ball it was like ‘OK, maybe I can still play.’”

After completing the 2014 spring season for football, Bachar decided to give baseball one more shot by trying out for the 2014-2015 baseball season.

“If you look historically at those individuals who have done both, it’s not that we’ve let them do both; it’s that they’re physically and mentally capable of doing both,” head baseball coach John Vodenlich said. “Those two-sport athletes are hard to find, but when you find one, you know they’re really special.”

At first, Bachar said he was worried he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other players because he didn’t know the intensity of the program, but as time went on, he gained more confidence in his comeback to baseball.

In his first season with the team, Bachar gathered a number of accolades to add to his already growing baseball resume.

He was named the 2015 Midwest Region Rookie of the Year, third team All-Midwest Region, American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings third team All-Midwest Region and first team All-WIAC.

After playing his first season with the ’Hawks, recording a 2.24 ERA in 10 games and seven starts, his coaches helped him find a spot on the Northwoods League Lakeshore Chinooks.

Northwoods League contracts range anywhere from 10 days to a month, and Bachar signed a temporary contract with the team, replacing a former UW-W player whose season was cut short due to an injury.

“It was very educational, and I learned a lot about the game of baseball over there,” Bachar said. “My goal was just to be there for a month. I was just trying to play as long as I could there.”

Bachar did more than just learn during his season with the Chinooks, being named the No. 100 Baseball America’s college draft prospect and the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Northwoods League on Baseball America’s 2015 Summer College League Top Prospects Index.

“It is very surreal; I never thought I would be in this situation,” Bachar said. “My whole family is just kind of taken aback from it.”

Vodenlich has watched Bachar grow from his first tryout until this season, where Bachar holds a 0.57 ERA with 36 strikeouts over 31 innings of work while issuing only four walks and allowing seven hits.

“When [Bachar] came in, he went from being just another potential pitcher on the team to earning a starting a role,” Vodenlich said. “And then each start he pitched in, he just continued to get better and better and better.”

Bachar doesn’t only lead his team on the field. His teammates see him as someone who supports the team, whether he’s on the field pitching or not.

“As a teammate he’s there for everyone,” senior outfielder Alex Hallenbeck said. “When he’s not pitching, he’s on the bench cheering on everybody, so it’s nice to see somebody who has so much potential not too self-centered and see him care about the team.”

With Bachar’s wide range of pitches, partnered with his velocity and ability to hold teams to zero to no hits a game, it’s not a surprise the stands have started to fill with minor league scouts.

Vodenlich was the primary pitching coach who worked with Bachar his rookie season, until the team hired Tom Klawitter, former Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher.

“I think he’s so good that this will be his last year in a Warhawk uniform,” Vodenlich said. “We’re excited to hopefully keep working with him so he can move on to the next level, despite knowing that we’ll absolutely miss him next year.”

For someone who looks up to Major League pitches like Jake Arrieta and Aroldis Chapman because of their dominance and pitching mechanics, he could find himself in the same MLB organization as his idols next season.

“I’m kind of just grabbing it by the horns and letting it go where it goes,” Bachar said.

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