College path already set: Tucker Holland is headed to Arkansas
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Tucker Holland chooses to embrace the attention that comes with his pitching outings for The Burlington School.
Professional scouts gather when the senior left-hander is on the baseball mound for the Spartans.
“It gets me excited. I love playing with high stakes,” Holland said. “I love playing with some games that matter. With them back there, it adds a little bit of juice. It gets me going. It fires me up. I like performing.”
Holland is signed to play collegiately with national power Arkansas. In the meantime, he’ll wind down his prep career over the next couple of months.
He threw four no-hit innings with 10 strikeouts last week against Ravenscroft at Davidson Park in Burlington. A cluster of scouts watched from behind the backstop. That included area scouts along with at least one regional scout from a National League team.
Major League Baseball sent a videographer to the game, something typical to collect footage of potential draftees.
‘A great circus’
“It’s a circus,” said Chad Holland, the TBS coach and the pitcher’s father. “But it’s a great circus. We love it. This is what we want as a program.”
Chad Holland is the former coach at Graham, where he remains as a physical education teacher. He started the baseball program at TBS.
The coach also has seen the hubbub around prospects previously. Former Graham catcher Matt Roberts drew attention in 2010 before going the college route to North Carolina. That year, Holland took the Red Devils to the Class 2-A state championship series.
Last year, TBS won the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 2-A state title. Among the standouts was pitcher Wagner Morrissette, who had pro scouts attend games and now pitches for the University of Maryland.
That was a taste of things to come. Tucker Holland said he’s accustomed to the presence of scouts from last spring through the summer circuit in travel ball.
“There are scouts every game,” he said. “There’s always going to be eyes on you. You kind of get used to it as the summer goes on.”
The Spartans have a significant rebuilding project this season given the number of seniors lost from the 2022 team. Tucker Holland has the benefit of working with returning catcher Landon Parker, a junior. They’ve been a pitching-catching battery for several years.
“There’s no problem catching Tucker,” Parker said. “He’s a hitter’s nightmare.”
Tucker Holland, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, has visited Arkansas twice and witnessed the crazed environment around the baseball program.
“It’s a really cool atmosphere. It’s definitely something I want to be part of,” he said. “I wouldn’t have chosen Arkansas if it didn’t feel right. At the same time, pro baseball has several positive upsides.”
Holland’s fastball has reached 95 mph, though he generally is comfortable in the 91-93 mph range. He was most pleased in last week’s outing with the efficiency that came with throwing about 80 percent strikes.
“The velo is going to come,” he said. “I’m a big dude, I’ll figure it out. The command is what I’m really taking pride in, becoming a pitcher more so than a thrower.”
Chad Holland said he’s glad that his son’s leadership and charisma stood out during the college recruiting process. There are no concerns about the 18-year-old’s determination.
“He wants it and he wants it really bad,” Chad Holland said.
While Tucker Holland is attracting attention, the benefits tend to spread beyond what he does.
“It definitely helps put our name out there,” Parker said. “We get recognition. It gives other guys a chance to be seen.”