Windham High’s Brady Afthim struck out 128 batters and walked only five in 53 1/3 innings this spring. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

When it came to baseball, young Brady Afthim always thought of himself as a catcher. He would go as far as to tell his coaches he didn’t want to pitch.

“And I didn’t really like pitching. I liked catching and hitting in four games a weekend. That was fun for me,” Afthim said.

This spring, the Windham High senior was still considered the best defensive catcher in the SMAA and hit at a torrid .478 clip with three homers.

But it was when he stepped on the mound that he really dominated – and clearly showed his future baseball path.

With a fastball touching the low 90s and an advanced feel for his off-speed pitches, Afthim struck out 128 batters and walked only five in 53 1/3 innings. He struck out 23 Portland batters in 8 1/3 innings before reaching his pitch count maximum. Portland won in 10 innings.

Windham struggled all season, going 4-13. That included a 1-0 playoff loss to top-seeded Thornton Academy, a game in which Afthim struck out 16 batters. Despite the team’s struggles, Afthim’s performances this spring make him our choice as the 2021 Varsity Maine Player of the Year in baseball. He also has been honored the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year in baseball and winner of the John Winkin Award as the top senior baseball player in the state.

When Afthim arrives in Storrs, Connecticut, later this summer for his freshman year at the University of Connecticut, his catching gear will stay in Windham.

“The catching days are over,” said Afthim, who is playing this summer for the Brockton (Massachusetts) Rox in the Futures College Baseball League.

Afthim said his mental transition from catcher to pitcher wasn’t fully formed until he verbal committed in June 2020 to play for UConn.

“Even the summer before that, after my sophomore year in high school, I was just up there (on the mound) just trying to throw hard,” Afthim said. “But once I committed to UConn, I started to focus on how I throw, the mechanics, the pre-game stuff, throwing programs and putting effort into the small things. I think it was a lot of small improvements that collectively added up to making a big step in terms of actually pitching.”

Afthim also caught the attention of several pro scouts. He said the Toronto Blue Jays indicated they wanted to draft him in the final rounds if Afthim wanted to go directly into professional baseball.

Afthim said he thought seriously about the offer before letting the Blue Jays’ scout know he would be going to college. He will be draft eligible again in 2024.

“I had a successful spring and all that good stuff but I know personally that I’m not ready to get out 24- and 25-year-olds who have been playing pro baseball,” Afthim said. “I’ve got some steps to take before I get to that level.”

His coaches believe those steps can happen.

“He has a very advanced feel for what his body is doing,” said Windham Coach Cody Dube, who pitched professionally in the Baltimore Orioles organization after a four-year college career. “Brady has really only pitched for a year and a half, so he definitely has more upside, or more projectability than some other kids.”

“He is just scratching the surface,” said Mike D’Andrea, Falmouth’s head coach and owner of the Maine Lightning club team that Afthim played for the past two years. “He’s going to become a 95-to-97 mile per hour fastball guy and he’s going to be a major league pitcher.”

“That’s my opinion and I don’t think it’s a bold statement,” D’Andrea continued. “I’ve coached against guys like Mark Rogers. I’ve coached (former Deering stars) Ryan Flaherty and Ryan Reed. They’ve all made it to the major leagues and this kid has as much ability as anybody.”


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