When Lincoln Mincks steps onto the mound, don't mistake the look on his face for anger.
Mincks, the starting pitcher for tonight's Brainerd Mighty Gulls Northwoods League opener at Alexandria, concentrates so closely on the task at hand that in the past teammates have wondered if he was angry with them.
"Once in a while when I'm pitching I'll kind of look like I'm mad at everybody," Mincks said, "But I'm not, I'm just so focused on the game that I don't want to talk, but I'm having fun."
And he should be. The future seems bright for this right-hander from Des Moines. Mincks was chosen as one of the top three high school pitchers in Iowa two years in a row and was selected Iowa baseball player of the year his senior year at Dowling High School in West Des Moines.
At Iowa State, Mincks was a starting pitcher both his freshman and sophomore years facing stiff competition in the Big Twelve. However, with Iowa State's decision to discontinue its baseball program, he will be attending the University of Central Florida next fall.
Mincks is planning on using the improvements he makes this summer to aid in a smooth transition into the program at Central Florida.
"I've been looking forward to coming here so I can work on getting better for Central Florida," Mincks said, "So I can help them out as much as possible."
Mincks isn't thinking of his time in Brainerd only as a stepping stone to next season. He's hoping it will help him make strides to his future goal of playing Major League Baseball. Because the Northwoods League is designed to mimic the minor league system, and teams play almost without break, young players get an introduction to what playing professional baseball would be like.
"It's easy to play when you play three times a week," Mincks said, "When you're playing every day you have to work a lot harder, keep your body in better shape."
Beyond his dedication and concentration, Mincks credits much of his success in baseball to the efforts of his parents, Earl and Deb, and the support they've given him through the years, including sacrificing in order to send him to Dowling, a catholic school renowned for its academics and athletics.
"They've always been supportive of me in everything I do," Mincks said, "They made sacrifices for me to go to Dowling and now they're making sacrifices for me to go down to Florida and to be here this summer."
Mincks considers the Brainerd lakes area and its recreational opportunities an added bonus to his summer in the Northwoods League.
"I really do like the area," Mincks said, "There's plenty of things to do and a lot of really good people here, too."
Mincks is looking forward to spending the little time off he will have fishing and practicing his newest hobby -- golf.
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