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Liberty Christian slugger Quade Tomlin turning pro, signs with Nationals

Liberty Christian slugger Quade Tomlin turning pro, signs with Nationals

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Liberty Christian’s Quade Tomlin kept hold of his normal, calm demeanor Monday night, despite having made a life-altering decision. Tomlin, one of the best sluggers in the Lynchburg area, has decided to turn pro and forgo a college career, signing a contract with the Washington Nationals on Monday night.

“My dream’s always been to play professional baseball,” Tomlin, 18, said. “Very excited to sign with the Nationals. … It’s exciting for me to be able to start my career at a young age.”

Tomlin went undrafted in June, when the MLB Draft was cut to five rounds as a cost-cutting measure amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He said teams called him during the draft showing interest, but not being picked “boiled down to a numbers thing.”

Still, once teams were allowed to contact free agents, the Washington Nationals immediately came calling.

Tomlin said he and his family prayed and thought about the Nationals’ offer, weighing it against potentially improving his draft stock by playing for Liberty University, the team with which he had signed. But he said he felt “the Lord bringing me to the opportunity more so than the college route.”

Despite the chaos of the last few months, when his high school senior season was eliminated by the pandemic, Tomlin said God has “been in control the whole way.” Getting a chance to be part of the 2019 World Series champion Nats’ program, he said, was especially exciting given his family’s ties to the organization.

Randy Tomlin, Quade’s father and LCA coach, was a pitching coach in the Nationals system for five seasons after he completed his career as a pitcher with Pittsburgh Pirates.

“Kind of surreal for me to be able to sign with an organization where we already knew people,” Quade Tomlin said.

The slugger, who hit .420 as a junior in 2019 and blasted nine home runs and five doubles to go with a .913 slugging percentage and a team-high 47 RBIs, is the latest in an impressive list of LCA players to be drafted out of high school.

Christian Gordon was drafted in 2019 and Wes Clarke was picked in 2018, but both chose to pursue college careers. Others in the area also have been drafted, but most opted to push back a pro career a few years.

As he ventures onto his new path, Tomlin’s legacy in Lynchburg and in the Virginia high school ranks — which includes Class 4, Region 4D and Seminole District player of the year honors in the most recent season — has been cemented.

Now, after enjoying his signing ceremony with friends and family Monday night, along with a nice steak and potatoes meal at one of his family’s favorite restaurants, Tomlin said he’s ready to get to work.

Despite not getting an opportunity to play in the minors this year (the minor leagues officially canceled the 2020 season Tuesday), Tomlin said he’ll do whatever he can to prepare for a pro debut in 2021, whether that’s working on his own or taking batting practice from his dad.

“I’ll make it work,” he said.

Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529. 

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