Psst. That's Mike Goren.
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Goren. From Jericho. The pitcher.
Never heard of him.
Just watch. He's going to Clemson next year.
That, more or less, is the conversation that follows Goren when he pitches. He has "maybe five or seven varsity wins," he said, and Jericho has a .192 winning percentage in his three-year career. In last year's travel season, he played for the South Shore Crawfish. They're new.
But when Goren pitches, he makes people talk, said Ryan Crawford, former assistant coach at Jericho, assistant coach at Plainedge and Crawfish coach.
"He's got this power changeup and he can hit 91," Crawford said. "He's a special kid. He throws strikes and he's smart. He's the kid no one knows about."
Before injuring a hamstring last year, Goren went 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 162/3 innings. Afterward, he closed out his final three games of travel ball with a no-hitter, a one-hitter and a 16- strikeout performance, dad Tom said. Though he consistently is in the high 80s, he has added 10 mph on to his fastball since his sophomore year.
At 6-3, 195, the righthander looks the part. His work ethic -- the one that makes him wake up at 6 a.m. to lift weights -- shows he means it when he says he's not done getting stronger.
Clemson sees him as an off-speed pitcher, "but I made the jump they were expecting, so it might be different," Goren said.
Tom Goren said his son has always had the natural gifts -- "I didn't want him to play intramural Little League because I was afraid he'd hurt someone," he said -- but didn't show his drive until 10th grade, after working with Crawford for a year. The two did weighted-ball workouts and lifted five times a week.
The summer before 12th grade, he played for former major-leaguer Jake Robbins' Showcase Baseball Academy team. One day, "I look up, and there's 60 to 70 Division I schools there," Goren said. "It was the most nerve-wracking thing ever."
He loaded the bases with none out. Then: Strikeout, groundout, strikeout.
The interest was there, but the offers weren't coming, he said. He continued to work with Crawford, whom he credits with changing his life, and by the time the Diamond Nation Showcase came around that same summer, he was hitting 90 with his fastball and ruining hitters' timing with his changeup. By his final showcase, over a dozen offers rolled in.
"I was very patient," Goren said. "I was going to end up where I belonged. I believed that."
For now, he's happy to do what he can at Jericho. Coach Dan O'Shea said Goren is one of the hardest workers he's ever had, and "the kids rally around him."
Winning the Diamond Award, given to the best pitcher in Nassau, would be nice, Goren said, but he's realistic about the fact that he might not get much exposure. Mostly, he just wants to make his parents proud, he said, and doesn't need the attention that comes with playing for a high school powerhouse or an exclusive travel team. "Coach Crawford always said you'll be seen if you're good enough," he said.
"I'd like to remain [a secret]. I love it. Coach Crawford, my dad and I like to think of ourselves as the people no one knows. When I go down to Clemson, kids will be going, 'Who are you?' "
That's Mike Goren. Maybe you've heard of him.