Walking into Coastal Carolina workout facilities, it may feel like Seth Lancaster never left.
Like he wasn’t picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball draft or he doesn’t already have 41 professional games under his belt.
But that childhood dream did come true for the kid from Hanahan. And as he prepares for spring training, that precious time with old coaches and teammates - some of whom were there when Coastal won their national title in 2016 - is becoming more and more invaluable for the 22-year-old.
“Just lifting and working on the fundamentals,” Lancaster said after a morning session on the weights. “It’s a little different since I’m not around them every day. But being out there and talking about the old days has been really good for me.”
Cemented in Chanticleers’ history, the younger guys view him as a legend. But for Lancaster, taking ground balls, hitting and working on his speed at Coastal has been a pleasant return to the place he called home for so long.
Plus, it’s necessary. The Phillies told him he’ll be used in a utility role, giving him time at second base, shortstop and third base. And that’s fine with him. After all, it’s what Gary Gilmore, Coastal’s longtime head coach, asked him to do for years.
“If you can hit good enough, you’ll get in the lineup,” Lancaster said. “It’s still baseball and it’s still fun. But it really is a job now, and you have to really earn your time on the field.”
There’s always competition for the limited role on the baseball diamond. But on this level, Lancaster is surrounded by guys just as good as him, if not better.
And he isn’t mincing words. He hit .195 through 41 games in Class A Short Season last year and is ready to make amends on that.
“It’s a mental thing, and I’ve learned that the hard way,” he said. “Now, it’s just about getting stronger and performing the way I know I can.”
This week, Lancaster is back in Hanahan, visiting his old stomping grounds and spending time with family and friends.
Here, he’s reminded that there’s no pressure when he’s up at the plate. His parents will be proud of him no matter what he does, and so will everyone else in his circle.
He still remembers the day he got the phone call. He was manning the grill at his home in Conway, surrounded by friends and teammates.
Fast forward, and playing pro ball with a shot to break into the majors is still where he wants to be. But until he reports to Clearwater for spring training, he’ll keep enjoying his role as a son.
In fact, he’ll welcome another niece or nephew into the family later this year.