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PREP ZONE: The future is bright for Bainbridge's J.R. Ritchie

J.R. Ritchie is one of the best high school pitchers in the country. He could be drafted in the MLB.

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — In 2006, Henry M. Jackson High School won the state baseball championship with Geoff Brown and Travis Snider leading the charge. Brown pitched five innings and hit a two-run home run to help Jackson finish the season with a 27-0 record.

"We just kind of had that blue-collar attitude,” said Brown. “We just wanted it more than anybody else, and it was a lot of fun.”

Brown said that 2006 team reminds him of a team he now coaches. After playing for the University of Washington, Brown spent five years in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Now, he's in his fourth season as head baseball coach at Bainbridge High School.

"I think the big thing about this group is they've grown up together. You know, a lot of these guys have been playing together since they were 8 years old. They all grew up in Bainbridge Little League," said Brown.

One of those players is pitcher J.R. Ritchie.

"When you talk about him on the mound, he's an animal. He's an animal man, that kid is a competitor,” said Brown. “All he wants to do is help his team win.”

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Ritchie's fastball is in the 90s, and he's recently been clocked at 98 mph. He also throws a slider and change-up, but maybe his most dangerous pitch is his attitude.

"My attitude every time going out there is, I'm better than you. I'm going find a way to be better than you, and I'm going to get you out," said Ritchie.

It's a mindset that has helped Ritchie become one of the best prep pitchers in the country. He hasn't lost a game since he was a freshman, and every time he throws, there are dozens of Major League Baseball scouts on hand.

"For him to be able to pump 95 to 97 miles an hour and hit corners almost at will, and to throw his change-up, which is a plus change-up, in any count and to throw a slider in any count, which is another plus pitch, that's what the pros do. I mean, that's what you watch on TV," explained Brown.

Ritchie committed to UCLA, but there's a good chance he gets drafted in the first round of the MLB draft.

"I mean, it's just one of those things that if the opportunity comes to me, I mean, then it's a really cool choice I have to make and a really difficult decision that I have to make, but it'd be a great one,” said Ritchie. “Right now, my plan is to attend UCLA in the fall and play baseball there. But I mean, you never really know. It would be special. I mean, I've dreamed of being a professional baseball player since I was 6 years old.”

His future is bright, but right now, Ritchie’s goal is to help the Spartans win their first state title.