Summer came early for Clint Coulter. The 19-year-old catcher from Camas never wants this season to end.
On June 4 in New York City, a week before he graduated from Union High School, Coulter became the 27th pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Two days later, he was back in Camas to attend his final classes at Union. And two days after that, he was in Milwaukee signing a contract for $1.675 million.
“It’s every kid’s dream to be able to play professionally,” Coulter said of his decision to play for the Brewers instead of going to Arizona State University on a $150,000 scholarship. “I wasn’t getting any younger. My ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues as fast as I can.”
Coulter returned home in time to graduate with his classmates McKenzie Stadium on June 10. A week later, he went to Arizona to begin an excellent adventure. He is catching for the Arizona League Brewers, a minor league team who plays in Maryvale.
“I can’t complain about the weather. Every day, it has been like 115 degrees out in the sun,” Coulter said. “But I can’t complain about my job. It’s what I love to do.”
On June 26, Coulter and his roommate Dustin Houle hit back-to-back home runs to help the Brewers beat the Angels 8-0. Coulter delivered a 3-run home run to begin the third inning and Houle added a solo shot.
“I remember my first hit being a home run, which was pretty cool,” Coulter said. “All of the days are blending together. I play four days in a row, and then get a day off. Most of the time, I don’t even know what day of the week it is. The time is just flying by.”
In 31 games this summer, Coulter has collected a .299 batting average (32 hits in 107 at-bats), 4 home runs, 24 RBI and 21 runs scored. He has also generated 47 total bases, 22 base on balls and 2 stolen bases.
“I just love the competition aspect. Every day is different,” Coulter said. “One day, you could be the happiest guy in the world. And the next day, you want to bury your head in the sand. [Baseball is] definitely a humbling game, and it teaches you a lot about life.”
Coulter thanked his parents Sherry and Cliff for helping him love the game more. Cliff and Clint both idolize Pete Rose.
“My dad taught me to respect the game, and to play as hard as you can, just like Charlie Hustle,” Clint said. “As long as you’re hustling, you’re never wrong. The biggest chance you can take is to not take a chance at all. You’ve got to be aggressive and refuse to lose.”
Coulter looks up to Mike Napoli. When the catcher for the Texas Rangers swings the bat, he comes out of his shoes. And just like Coulter, both he and Napoli grunt.
“I swing so hard that I grunt. That’s what coaches call me,” Coulter said. “I’m not Clinton or Coulter, I’m just ‘Grunt.’”
Coulter grew up cheering for infielders Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. He learned to catch from Union head coach Tom Lampkin, who spent 13 years in the big leagues, as a catcher for the Brewers, the Cleveland Indians, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners.
“I’m the only guy who doesn’t have anyone behind me,” Coulter said. “I love dictating the pace of the game. I can’t take any pitch off because I’m the one calling it.
“If I was a football player, I’d have to be the quarterback and the wide receiver,” he added. “I want to throw the ball and be the one to catch it. That’s just the type of player I am.”
Coulter doesn’t want his days in the sun to go away. Every new sunrise feels like a brand new challenge to conquer.
His advice to young ballplayers is to make the most of the time they have before adulthood. Make every day count, and remember to have fun.
“Four years in high school goes by quick. You can either let those years pass you by, or you can grab hold of them and make the most of them,” Coulter said. “As long as you’re doing something you love, nobody can take away that confidence and that feeling of satisfaction. Even when I was working out, I was having fun. Life is too short to be doing something you don’t want to do.”