JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- In our new digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Kaleb Meredith, a junior baseball and basketball player at University High.
They are calling this guy a unicorn.
“Which as a left-handed pitcher is kind of a unicorn in terms of being a guy throwing in the mid-80s and being productive with his off pitches,” University High head baseball coach John Petty said.
Kaleb Meredith, pitcher for University High, is a unicorn.
“He migrated up very quickly to my number one this year on our staff,” Petty said. “Any time you see a unicorn I hate to keep saying that but a unicorn is a left-handed pitcher that can throw in the mid-80s.”
Well if a kid can grab the attention of college scouts in his freshman year, he’s got to have some magic with him.
“It happened really his freshman year we were playing Loretto which had Ryan Weathers who was drafted 7th overall,” Petty said.
In the first round of the 2018 state tournament, University High was losing to Loretto High, and Meredith’s name was called to take the mound in relief.
“I really just wanted to come in and make an impact you know I’m a freshman I haven’t really pitched much this year,” Meredith said.
“3 and 1/3 innings, I think he struck out 7 and didn’t give up any runs,” Petty said.
He was mowing them down, showcasing his talent to some high profile scouts, but the big moment came in his at-bat against Ryan Weathers.
“They were looking at Ryan Weathers I mean the stands you couldn’t have stacked an index card between the fans watching Ryan Weathers,” Petty said.
“I wanted to pitch to him and go at him and make it competitive, obviously, but at the same time I was not trying to throw it in his wheelhouse either,” Meredith said.
“I struck him out, I think it was a fastball honestly,” Meredith said.
Striking out a Vanderbilt commit certainly raised his profile a bit.
“That really was his first look, he was in the right place at the right time,” Petty said.
“I didn’t really get the immediate effect instantly but I think it did influence a lot and it was something people took notice of for sure,” Meredith said.
Things took off for Meredith after that, going on to have a strong sophomore season and garnering recruitment from some high profile Division-I schools.
“You know he got saw by some folks and saw that he had the mental and physical potential to be able to throw at a D-I level,” Petty said.
One of the schools interested: the University of Tennessee, and right there he was sold.
“They just really impressed me it was a big player-first, family-first kind of environment with great coaches and great team success and it’s right here you know hometown,” Meredith said.
Meredith committed in October and was excited to grow in his junior season; the season that has been canceled due to the coronavirus.
“I thought our season was gonna be a good one I thought we had the right tools to make another state run and hopefully make it farther than we did last year but it didn’t work out,” Meredith said.
But he still had a strong junior season on the hardwood; he plays basketball for the Junior Bucs as well.
“You know as a basketball player he does it all he’s a strong defensive player rebounder passer he can score outside he can get to the rim he’s got the total game,” University High head basketball coach Herman Rice said.
“I think I’m in love with both of them it was a great year I mean we lost our sub-state game that was really heartbreaking but we had a great year and I had some great teammates,” Meredith said.
He’s already a 2,000 point scorer as a junior, and to make things sweeter his 2,000th point was on a buzzer-beater to win the district tournament.
While he’s doing all this, as the basketball season goes along he starts throwing to get his arm ready for the baseball season.
“So I’m already throwing through January February that way when March comes around and basketball ends I’m just as ready to go as everybody else,” Meredith said.
He has been recruited for basketball scholarships as well but he’s set with baseball; for now, he’s just enjoying it all.
“I have people ask me all the time if I get tired or burn out from it but I love it I love balancing both of them,” Meredith said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.