Updated: 05/17/2013 9:59 PM KSTP.com By: Chris Long
Most Twin Cities' high school baseball programs are lucky to have one MLB draft prospect.
This year's Mounds View team may have two - and they're multi-talented.
"To have one lefty who can throw strikes and throw hard is nice," says Mounds View coach Jon Nuss. "But to have two? I don't know, maybe something's in the water up here."
Mustangs senior Max Knutson and junior Sam Hentges are both fireballnig lefthanded pitchers, but they also star in the field and at the plate. Knutson plays right field, while Hentges is a power-hitting first baseman.
"They have a huge impact," Nuss says. "Both are phenomenal baseball players on both sides of the ball. Sam is one of the best power hitters in the state. Max can hit and run. And of course, on the pitchers mound, both do a phenomenal job."
The two supremely talented players - Knutson rifles fastballs in the low-to-mid 90-'s, while Hentges has already broken the school's single-season home run record - have developed quite a bond.
"Me and Sam grew up together," Knutson says. "He asks me questions, I ask him questions."
"(Our friendship) has definitely grown over the last year, we're close to best friends," Hentges says. "We're really tight and it's fun to play with him."
Knutson has committed to Nebraska for college, but June's MLB Draft could offer him a choice.
"It'll be a tough decision," Knutson says. "Pro ball seems fun, college ball seems fun, but that's where you weigh things out. You do the pros and cons and go from there."
Max's 93 mile-an-hour arm has drawn scouts' attention not just toward him, but also to Hentges.
The other night Max was pitching with around 20 scouts there," Nuss recalls. "...and Sam hit a 450-foot home run."
His propensity for power could give Muonds View MLB draftees in back-to-back years - Knutson this year, Hentges next year.
"It's exciting for me," Hentges says. "The draft is in a month and we've talked a little about it. We'll be at his house draft day to see where he gets drafted. It's nice to have him go first so I can follow in his footsteps."
Hentges hasn't narrowed down his college choices - in the event the draft doesn't work out - but he does say the University of Minnesota is an early contender.
But if Knutson's prediction is right, it's possible both players could skip college baseball for a chance to make it in the pros.
"Sam is an unbelievable baseball player," Max insists. "He's going to be three times better than me."
Whether it's in college or as early-round pro draftees, it's clear a bright future lies ahead for them both.
"I hear 'em talking," Nuss says. "Max will be saying, 'Ok, Sam this is gonna happen and that's going to happen.' Max has mentored Sam a little bit. I remember once he was saying, 'You'll probably get drafted too, think about it you know!'"
If the dream of being drafted comes true for one - or both - they'll have earned it.
"It's not just about god-given talent," Nuss insists. "They both really work hard. Both practice their skills, take it seriously, but they also have a fun time doing it."