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Wildwood native commits to Duke for baseball

Mike Foltz Jr-Billy Wagner

Michael Foltz Jr. (right) stands with former Phillies closer Billy Wagner, Foltz's pitching coach on the Evoshield Canes national baseball team. Foltz, who lived in Wildwood and Lower Township until age 8, is a rising junior at Carolina Forest High School outside Myrtle Beach, S.C. Foltz, a left-hnaded pitcher, committed to play college baseball at Duke earlier this year. Foltz's parents, Mike and Kristina, are graduates of Wildwood and Lower Cape May Regional high schools, respectively.

Michael Foltz Jr. has lived just outside of Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the past nine years. But the 16-year-old Carolina Forest High School rising junior still refers to Wildwood and Cape May County as “home.”

“When people ask me where I am from, I directly think of Wildwood,” he said. “I was only there for about eight years but that’s the place I still call home. Back there everybody knows me and it’s always a blast being there when I can make it back.”

Foltz will have a new place to call home in a couple of years – Duke University.

The son of Wildwood High School graduate Mike Foltz Sr. and Lower Cape May Regional graduate Kristina (Jones) Foltz, Foltz is a left-handed pitcher for his high school team and multiple travel teams. In only three short years, Fultz has grown from a slightly above average pitcher into one of his region’s top high school hurlers. Armed with a fastball that is beginning to touch 90 miles per hour on the radar gun, Foltz verbally committed to accept an early scholarship offer from Duke in March.

Last season for Carolina Forest, Foltz posted a 3-3 record with a 2.14 earned run average in 39 1/3 innings pitched in his first varsity action after pitching for Carolina Forest’s junior varsity team as a freshman. He conceded just 30 hits and struck out 50 batters for a team that finished 15-12 while playing against tough competition in 2017. Three of his senior teammates are set to play Division I college baseball. One of them, Bryar Johnson, was selected in the 20th round of the major league draft by the Kansas City Royals in June.

Foltz’s statistics from his junior season might not have seemed possible when he first entered high school.

“He was only throwing 62, 63 miles an hour in the fall of his freshman year,” said Foltz Sr., a 1994 graduate of Wildwood who played baseball, basketball and football as a high school student and who later was an assistant football coach at his alma mater.

That’s when Foltz became involved in the Velocity baseball strength program, sometimes referred to as “Velo.” According to multiple websites, “Velo” is designed to enhance flexibility and improve strength while improving power at the plate and velocity on the mound.

Foltz is guided through the program by his personal pitching coach, former major league pitcher Mike Williams.

“It’s a really rough training program, very regimented,” Foltz Sr. said. “He shuts down every September and October. He won’t throw a ball at all; he just does the Velocity camp. Then he’ll do some bullpens over the winter and he’ll be ready to go in the spring. He got up to about 72 (miles per hour) by his sophomore year in the fall and right now he’s up to topping out at 90. And he’s only 16.”

Foltz’s family moved from Cape May County to Myrtle Beach nine years ago because of a good career opportunity for his mother, who works in the hotel industry. In addition to coaching travel baseball teams, his father is a youth sports leader for the Myrtle Beach Recreation Department. Foltz also has a younger brother, Mason, 14, who is also heavily involved in baseball.

In addition to his high school team, Foltz also played for the Evoshield Canes South 2019 team, an elite regional traveling team. He performed well enough that he was chosen to pitch in a game for Evoshield’s national team earlier this summer. He tossed six innings and allowed only two hits in what was eventually a 9-4 victory. His team’s pitching coach was former Phillies closer Billy Wagner.

“I did really well the first three innings but then in the fourth inning I got a little shaky with walks,” Foltz said. “But overall it was really good.

“That was probably the most unreal experience I’ve had as baseball player in my career so far. Not only did I get to play with the best kids in my age group from my own organization, but then to be selected to play in an even bigger game, it was the best experience of my career so far.”

Foltz, who carries a 4.6 grade point average academically, was also being recruited by Clemson, East Carolina, South Carolina and Vanderbilt, among others, before committing to Duke earlier this year.

“Once I finished up all my visits I had kind of known right away that Duke was the way I wanted to go,” said Foltz, a nephew of Wildwood High School baseball coach Rich Hans. “The biggest thing is the academic opportunities. It can’t be matched, unless you go Ivy League. Then when you combine the academics with the opportunities for exposure with baseball, it’s an amazing combination. It’s (Atlantic Coast Conference) baseball and you’re playing against these huge powerhouse baseball programs. So I’ll get the chance to compete at that level and at the same time get the best education I can get.”

Foltz was asked if he thought he’d ever have a chance to get recruited to play baseball at a place such as Duke.

“When I first started playing, I never thought I could go somewhere big but I always hoped I’d have a chance to play somewhere,” he said. “As soon as people found out I was a left-handed pitcher they’d always tell me I’d have a chance. In my mind I started dreaming about it. But I don’t think I could’ve imagined myself where I am now.”

Needless to say, baseball is a huge part of the Cape May County native’s life.

“It’s definitely the No. 1 thing I like to do,” Foltz said. “I want to stay involved in baseball as long as I can. Everything I’m doing is to focus on playing at the next level and hopefully beyond. I love the game. I love seeing that the hard work is starting to pay off. I love the ‘Velo’ program. I feel like my arm stays right with my mechanics and everything. A huge part of my success is the people around me helping me. There’s a lot of support. I’m trying to use the tools I’ve been given the best I can and it’s paying off on and off the field for me.”

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