ANDOVER — Life was already hectic enough for Thomas White.
The 14-year-old Rowley resident had just come back from a big baseball showcase in Florida and moved into the Phillips Academy dorms in Andover, getting used to life away from home on the prestigious boarding school’s campus.
Then on Sept. 5, when he was going about his business, his phone suddenly started blowing up. One of the country’s top amateur baseball organizations, Perfect Game, had just released its national player rankings for the high school Class of 2023.
White was ranked the No. 1 freshman in the country.
“I was ecstatic, it was awesome,” said White, a 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher whose fastball already touches 91 mph. “I found out after a lot of people. I started getting texts from people I knew, and I hadn’t even seen the rankings.”
White was already recognized as one of the nation’s top baseball prospects but ever since Perfect Game’s rankings dropped, he has seen his profile rise dramatically. Phillips Andover coach Kevin Graber said White has been contacted by a litany of national publications, along with scouts, agents and others interested in connecting with the future star.
It’s not hard to see why White is so highly regarded.
For the past five years, he has played for the Legends Prospects club out of Middleton in the Elite Baseball League, and the recent Triton Regional Middle School graduate played a major role this summer in leading his team to two regional tournament titles, the EBL title and a second-place finish at the Perfect Game BCS National Tournament.
His performance at nationals was particularly eye-opening as he tied the event’s all-time best fastball when he hit 91 mph on the radar gun while striking out 19 batters over eight innings to earn Most Valuable Pitcher honors.
Overall, White went 13-2 with a 0.37 ERA and 170 strikeouts over 75.1 innings while pitching for the Legends Prospects this summer, all of which were tops in the EBL.
He also ranked as one of the league’s top hitters, batting .405 while leading the league in home runs (4), doubles (16, tied for first) and stolen bases (29) while ranking second in hits (70), runs (46) and RBIs (37).
He finished the summer by taking part in the Perfect Game 14U Baseball Festival, where he was one of the top 44 players his age in the country invited to make the trip to Fort Myers, Florida, over Labor Day weekend. He obviously made a strong impression as less than a week later, he topped the organization’s first national rankings.
“Electric throughout the summer, easy low-90s velocity with excellent life; very easy operation on mound,” White’s bio reads on Perfect Game’s rankings.
Barring injury or other issues, White projects as a future Division 1 college player and could conceivably wind up getting drafted out of high school in the 2023 MLB Draft. Yet as much as things have already changed, White is taking it all in stride.
This fall, he is playing squash — a sport he’s never played and barely heard of — to fulfill his athletic requirement for the semester, and White said the teachers and fellow students at Phillips have been great.
He’s enjoyed getting to know his teammates and is looking forward to his first season of high school baseball in the spring.
But even as he and his family work to keep things normal, they acknowledge that things will be different from here on out. Case in point, White was recently asked for his autograph for the first time.
“One of my dad’s colleague’s sons already said I’m their idol, so that’s really cool,” White said. “It feels so good doing it because I’m still that kid for the big leaguers.”