Cal Coughlin winds up to throw a pitch during a game with Carmel last season. Coughlin, a Lake Forest resident, is a highly rated prospect in the Class of 2016. | Mark Ukena/for Sun-Times Media
Cal Coughlin has played in many showcase events during his young baseball career.
But nothing quite compared to the recent Prep Baseball Report Future Games, held last Thursday through Saturday in Westfield, Indiana. The games featured top 2016 prospects from nine states, including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Kansas.
“It was at a complex with [a lot of] fields. I got to play in front of 120 colleges,” said Coughlin, ranked as PBR’s third-best prospect for 2016. “I haven’t done something like that.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Lake Forest resident is what scouts call a two-way prospect.
“On the mound he’s good, and positionally he’s good,” PBR Executive Director Sean Duncan said. “He’s a switch hitter with power from both sides.”
Coughlin pitches right-handed and plays third base. At a PBR event in February, his fastball was clocked at 92 MPH. He throws a cut fastball and slider in the low 80s. He did nothing to diminish his lofty stature at the Future Games.
One day of the three-day event was allocated to workouts. Players hit batting practice, took ground balls and ran while being viewed by college scouts. Coughlin’s throw from third base to first was clocked at 86 MPH. He hit one home run from the right side of the plate and two from the left side. It was one of the more impressive workouts, according to Duncan.
“He’s a physical kid and that showed during the workout portion. He’s got juice from both side of the plate,” Duncan said. “He came into the event highly ranked and he showed well.”
Added Coughlin, “I played against the best kids in the Midwest. It was cool to see where you stand against these guys.”
Duncan added that it’s not unusual for a player of Coughlin’s caliber to be recruited as a pitcher and fielder, although he said the best Division I schools will eventually want him to settle for one of the other.
“There is no doubt, [colleges] will give him an opportunity to do both. I don’t know why you wouldn’t give him a chance on the mound with his arm strength,” Duncan said. “The higher up he goes, the harder it is to do two-way. That will work its way out.”
The Team Illinois roster included Cooper Johnson, a teammate of Coughlin’s at Carmel in 2014. Johnson committed to Mississippi soon after the Futures Games. The team went 1-1-1, with Coughlin throwing in one of the games and striking out three in two innings of work.
Coughlin, a junior-to-be, will be taking his two-way talents to a new high school this year. He has left Carmel and said he will enroll at either Loyola or Lake Forest, where his twin sister Cassidy and brother Cade (incoming freshman) are students.
It will be a busy August for Coughlin. Not only will he decide on a high school, he also plans to visit this year’s College World Series champion Vanderbilt and North Carolina.
“I’m pretty far in [with recruiting],” Coughlin said. “I’ll decide [on a college] whenever I get the right offer. We’ll see how it goes.”