CHICAGO — What were you doing when you were a junior in high school?
Chances are, probably not representing your ancestors in the world’s biggest baseball tournament, but that’s exactly what this 17-year-old junior from Lane Tech High School is about to do.
Amaan Khan — a right-handed pitcher for Lane Tech — will be playing for Pakistan in the qualifying rounds of the World Baseball Classic, starting Friday.
“I’m super excited, really proud,” said Amaan’s father, Azeem Khan. “Both of [his grandparents] were born and raised in Pakistan so, they are really excited.”
The goal of one day playing for Pakistan goes back to 2017, when Amaan and his father watched Pakistan compete in the fourth iteration of the tournament. While Pakistan went 0-2 in their qualifying matchups that year, the seed was planted.
After finishing his sophomore year at the junior varsity level and performing well for the Elite Baseball Training program, things started to fall into place, culminating in Pakistan’s National Team reaching out to Amaan over social media.
“It just happened organically. They found him on twitter,” Azeem Khan said. “They reached out to him, communication started, and here we are.”
Amaan is one of only three high school baseball players on Pakistan’s team and the youngest member of the squad by more than a year and a half. Despite the gap in age and experience compared to some of his counterparts, Amaan’s travel team coach believes he is up for the challenge.
“It’s a super exciting situation,” said Tierney, director of the Elite travel program. “He has definitely worked hard for it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and he’s ready for the challenge.”
Khan has four pitches in his repertoire. He throws both a two-seam and a four-seam fastball that reach 86 miles-per-hour, along with a changeup and a curveball to help keep hitters honest.
“My curveball [is my go-to pitch],” Amaan said. “I like it a lot.”
Amaan and his father boarded a flight for Panama Wednesday, as Pakistan’s first game of the qualifying rounds is set to take place at 8 p.m. EST against Argentina at the Estadio Nacional Rod Carew in Panama City.