Levi Mintz‘s only option to play baseball out of high school was from Mississippi State.
However, taking the Bulldogs up on that option was a bit more complicated.
Mintz also shared a love for football and had scholarships to play quarterback at Samford, Birmingham Southern and Berry College.
“It was a big decision because I really enjoyed football in high school,” Mintz said. “But getting here, I think it was the right decision. This school offers what I want to do in life.”
The right-handed pitcher not only chose MSU because of its prowess on the diamond but also its renown engineering department. Mintz spent his first two years in Starkville as a biomedical engineering major but recently switched to software engineering.
“Hopefully I’ll get a good job and make some money,” Mintz said.
Mintz redshirted his initial season with the Diamond Dogs and adapting to the transition playing in Class 1A at Cedar Bluff (Ala.) High School.
“It definitely helped me get more accustomed to how the game is and the speed of it,” Mintz said. “It’s so much faster than it is in high school. Everything happens quicker. It also helped me to get into the weight room and really work for a year to get stronger and build up my body. I think that helped against injury.”
His redshirt year also allowed Mintz to spend time and study from Butch Thompson, who is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top pitching coaches.
“That guy is a genius,” Mintz said. “There’s just so much baseball knowledge in his head. You just have to be around him, pick through it and ask questions.”
Mintz went on to make 18 relief appearances this past spring. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder worked 26 1/3 innings with a 4.10 earned run average, 23 strikeouts and 13 walks but did not factor into a decision.
Mintz made his debut on Valentine’s Day against Cincinnati pitching a scoreless inning allowing one hit, one walk and a strikeout. He went on to shutout his opponents over his first five relief appearances.
Mintz admits that pitching in the Southeastern Conference is a drastic change from what he experienced in high school, where he was voted the Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 1A Pitcher of the Year. As a senior, he struck out 71 batters in 56 2/3 innings while also commanding a 0.99 ERA.
“In high school you can make a mistake and it’s okay,” Mintz said. “Here if you make a mistake, you might not get the ball back. The game happens so much faster. It’s such a difference in competition level and skill.”
Although Mintz’s decision to come to State was a difficult one to make, he is glad he chose to come.
“I’ve been very happy,” Mintz said. “The atmosphere and the fans are great. It’s actually a really good school and the campus is awesome. It has a small town feel and that’s what I’m from but there’s also a lot of people here. It’s just a really nice place.”