Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Preston Ohm joins a growing list of pitchers in his family
Pitcher Preston Ohm has committed to play college baseball at Division I St. Thomas. His father and uncle were both college pitchers and he has a cousin who will also pitch in college.
ZUMBROTA — Pitching has been a family tradition so it’s only natural that Preston Ohm grew up as a pitcher. Turns out he's a pretty good one, too.
Ohm will get a chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and a cousin as a pitcher at the college level. The 6-foot-4, 192-pound left-handed pitcher is just a junior at Zumbrota-Mazeppa, but he has already committed to play at Division I University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
“The recruiting process in general was pretty fun, I thought,” Ohm said. “Every coach I spoke to was great and for St. Thomas, I just really enjoyed what they had to offer academically and it felt like a great fit.”
The fact Ohm has landed at a Division I college is no surprise to AJ Yusten, the baseball coach at Zumbrota-Mazeppa.
“Preston’s definitely got extremely high aspirations for himself, his high school expectations and goals so this falls in line for what he’s trying to accomplish,” Yusten said. “He works hard for 12 months out of the year.”
Ohm intends to major in business in college, but he would love to put those career plans on hold for as long as possible.
“Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to play in the MLB, that’s every kid’s goal, right? I just want to see how far I can get and I’m enjoying the process,” Ohm said.
His uncle, Joe Ohm, was a pitcher for two seasons in the Chicago Cubs’ minor-league system after his college baseball career. Ryan Ohm, Joe’s son and Preston's cousin, is a senior at Century and the right-handed pitcher has committed to play at Iowa Central Community College.
Chuck Ohm, Preston’s father, was a pitcher and played quarterback at St. Olaf College. Chuck is the former baseball coach at Zumbrota-Mazeppa and has supplied Preston with plenty of coaching tips over the years. Now as a teacher at Z-M, Chuck makes sure Preston gets opportunities to work out at the high school when needed, and that has happened on numerous occasions.
“I always like to challenge myself and keep getting better,” Ohm said. “I like to say ‘You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.’ You’re never really staying the same.”
Ohm also trains at Rochester Batting Cages and works with former minor-league pitcher Mitch Brown.
“He’s probably one of the main reasons (why I'm) where I’m at today,” Ohm said. “He’s been a huge part of my progression.”
Ohm had a tender arm after pitching for Z-M last spring so he was very limited on his throwing during the summer. He did play in a fall league with the Rochester Pines and has built up arm strength by throwing four to five times a week for the past month and a half.
He likes to throw his fastball and says it dictates how the rest of his pitches are going. He also throws a changeup and a curveball. When he had his fastball timed last fall, he topped out at 89.8 miles per hour.
“Right now I would probably assume I’m at 90 or 91 because I’ve been putting in some work this offseason,” Ohm said.
Yusten said a big part of Ohm’s game is his mental makeup and preparation for each game. The coach says Ohm is mature beyond his years and is not likely to get rattled during the course of a game.
Ohm just takes it as if it’s a natural part of his training, all designed to help him go as far in the sport as possible.
“I just try to be cool, calm and collected every pitch,” he said.
When Ohm isn’t pitching for the Cougars, he is playing either outfield or first base. As a sophomore, he had a 2-3 record with a 3.68 ERA on the mound. He also batted .304 with 10 RBIs.
“He’s just an extremely nice and polite kid,” Yusten said. “You won’t meet a nicer kid. He’s definitely an example of what you want on your team.”
Ohm is also currently a starter for the Z-M boys basketball team. While baseball is his top sport, Ohm is enjoying the basketball season and the Cougars are having a solid season with a 10-8 record.
“We’ve been losing a few games we shouldn’t be losing,” he said. “But I think if we can put it together, we can make a good run.”