Prep star at Seattle PDP won't let illness slow him down

Prep star at Seattle PDP won't let illness slow him down

SEATTLE -- It was a warm, sunny day without a cloud in the sky in Seattle as Nate Clow strolled toward the visitor's dugout at Safeco Field. He had no complaints or worries in the world.

And why would he? He just finished playing his favorite sport on the field of his favorite team, the Mariners, as the youngest of 26 players from the Pacific Northwest invited to the 2017 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) event on Friday. Clow, an incoming sophomore at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, Wash., was the only representative from the class of 2020.

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But even if he just finished playing on a muddy field, you probably wouldn't hear a grumble from Clow. He's not the type to let life's everyday challenges bother him.

Clow suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the large intestine due to an abnormal response from the immune system. It's the same condition that forced Rangers relief pitcher Jake Diekman to undergo a three-stage surgery to remove his large intestine, which started in January.

Even during a "flare," a period of active inflammation in which frequent trips to the restroom are required -- Clow said he usually has to go eight to 15 times a day during these times -- he makes sure he's on the field.

"I power through it, I'm a tough guy," Clow said. "You lose weight, you're fatigued, you're tired. But you just got to play through, power through. Baseball is like the only outlet, you're sick inside, you know things aren't going well. It's nice to just escape to the baseball field and go have fun."

Clow was one of the top prospects to watch at the Seattle PDP event, a joint partnership between MLB and USA Baseball to identify and develop potential Draft prospects. Friday's showcase was one of 20 PDP events across the nation this year.

Participants underwent athletic assessments, tests which included a broad jump, a vertical leap, a 30-yard dash, agility drills, and vision screening before heading to the field for batting practice and infield-outfield practice. Pitching prospects also threw on the mound. The event ended with a short speech by Mariners assistant general manager Jeff Kingston.

"I told them the same thing we tell our Minor League players, and that is take advantage of the opportunities, be competitive not just on the field but off the field, take advantage of the cognitive programs and the athletic basement," Kingston said. "Really just make the best person you can be, the best version of yourself."

And despite being the youngest, Clow proved he's no slouch on the field.

"He's got pretty good bat speed," one scout said. "He's got a pretty nice swing, bat stays in the zone, and he's pretty strong."

Clow committed to the University of Washington last October, something that wasn't only optimal for his baseball future, but his personal interests.

"It's better to just be close to home," Clow said. "It's what I want to do. I love Seattle. I love it here. I love my family and it's not only what I want to do, it's what I need to do. Because my hospital, Seattle Children's Hospital, is right across the street from UW."

What's more, Clow's condition inspired him to help others in need when he was younger, as he aspires to be a gastroenterologist -- perhaps after his baseball career.

Clow's disease hasn't grown as severe as Diekman's, and he can manage it well enough with diet and medication. But even if his condition was to worsen and he was forced to have the procedure, he wouldn't put his baseball career on the shelf.

"I'm not the kind of guy that says I'm going to let this disease get to me," Clow said. "Yeah, there's sometimes where it's that extreme. But I like to play through it if I can.

"This disease isn't going to stop me from playing baseball."