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Arizona baseball recruiting: Wildcats use entire athletics experience to land Roman Phansalkar

It's not just about baseball when recruiting baseball players

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

When a baseball prospect is visiting your campus in November, you wonder if they'll see exactly what they're looking for.

Well, in the case of Roman Phansalkar, he saw everything he needed to.

"I went out for a three day weekend kind of deal," the junior high school baseball player explained of his visit to Tucson. "There was a basketball game Friday, football game on Saturday."

That was the basketball game against Pacific and the football game against Utah.

"The basketball game was a packed house, and I'm an Oklahoma State fan, and we've been pretty good for the last couple years, but this year was a down year and they only get four or five thousand fans. And when I walked into Arizona they had a sold out stadium, which is pretty impressive for opening night."

"Then the next night they played Utah and they stormed the field, so it just felt right with all that happening."

"I loved it."

It's not unusual for all of Arizona's non-revenue sports to use basketball and football games as major recruiting tools. Nor is it unusual for a kid from Oklahoma have that thrown at him.

"I went to OU a couple times," Phansalkar explained. "I went to the OU/Baylor game, but that didn't work out well since Baylor beat 'em 56-0 or something like that a few years ago. So OU used football. I went to a couple baseball games, maybe a practice. I was supposed to go to a Duke game but I decided to come to Arizona instead, and that worked out pretty well."

He wasn't recruited heavily early on in his high school career, but the interest picked up a lot of steam in a very short amount of time.

"It's been pretty fast," Phansalkar said about his recruiting process. "I put on some weight, and I got four or five offers in the span of two weeks. Then I went to a tournament in Florida, and that's where I saw Arizona. I went out and visited the next weekend and I loved it."

Phansalkar, who is from Oklahoma City, visited schools like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but also went to national powers like Texas, Duke, North Carolina and TCU. Arizona was still the best of those locales in his mind.

"I just thought the facilities were bigger, better and more fit to baseball," he said about comparing Arizona to some of those other schools. "I saw technology being used in the weight room. The weight room was like something I had never seen before."

"It was just impressive and took me by surprise with everything they had there. I went to TCU a couple weeks before, and they had a small, indoor (area) with about two cages, and Arizona has like three fields in the back just sitting there for them to use."

He also said that no other school has those back fields along with the underground clubhouse setup that Arizona has.

It's not all about the facilities and the atmosphere around Arizona Athletics. Assistant coach Sergio Brown developed a strong rapport with Phansalkar as well.

"He was kind of my chaperone for the weekend," Roman explained of Coach Brown. "He's a very intelligent guy, which impressed me the most for a baseball guy. I've talked to a lot of assistant coaches that just seem like baseball gurus, and their whole life is baseball, but he made a comparison to a couple books while we were in the car which made my mom laugh."

"My mom loves books, so that got her pretty good."

The entire Arizona recruiting pitch was something that this highly-recruited pitching prospect was unfamiliar with.

"Coach Johnson was talking to me to make sure that I wanted to play professional baseball, and that was a goal of mine, and he said we don't want anybody that doesn't want to continue their career after Arizona, so that made me feel good that they want to work with me to get me better for the next level and not just see what they can squeeze out of me in the four years I'm there."

"I thought the coaching staff was just the icing on the cake. Obviously with Coach Brown's intelligence and knowledge of the game was a huge step up. And then Johnson coming in and talking about how much he wanted me and where I could take the program, so that's what impacted my decision as well."

Phansalkar is interested in majoring in business, so having Eller at Arizona was also another thing that made him decide that Tucson was the place to be.

"We took a tour (of Eller)," he said. "They listed off all the rankings, which was very impressive. I had to go back and double-check 'em, but it all checked out."

"They blew me away."

The Arizona pitching prospect is a two-way player in high school right now. In 13 appearances last year, Phansalkar posted a 10-1 record and a 1.42 ERA.

"What separates me as a pitcher is I feel like I think the game better than most other guys," he said of is prowess on the mound. "Pitch selection for me is a huge key. I was a guy who didn't throw that hard early and slowly developed, so I learned how to pitch before I could throw hard."

"Now that the velocity's come, that and my strength has just made me a better pitcher."

He's currently sitting in the high 80's, and has topped out at 90 or 91 MPH before. He also says that his slider is his strongest pitch right now.

It'll still be almost two years before we see Phansalkar take the mound at Hi Corbett, but the kid is smart, grounded, and seems ready to take on the challenge of college baseball, even as a junior in high school. This is a guy that Arizona fans should be excited about as the Jay Johnson era takes off in the next few years.