How a Lane Tech junior is helping grow baseball in Pakistan

Amaan Khan, a 16-year-old right-hander, pitched for the Pakistan national team during its two-game stay in a qualifying tournament for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

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Amaan Khan, seen here with the Elite Baseball Training program, pitched for Team Pakistan in a World Baseball Classic qualifier.

Amaan Khan, seen here with the Elite Baseball Training program, pitched for Team Pakistan in a World Baseball Classic qualifier.

Baseball is an international sport but still has room to expand. One country that’s attempting to make inroads is Pakistan, more known for its prowess on the cricket pitch.

Lane Tech junior Amaan Khan is part of that effort.

Khan, a 16-year-old right-hander, pitched for the Pakistan national team during its two-game stay in a qualifying tournament for the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Though Pakistan was eliminated after a 7-4 loss to Argentina on Sept. 30 and a 12-0 defeat to Nicaragua on Oct. 2, the games in Panama City, Panama, were another step for the nascent baseball nation that also participated in qualifiers for the 2017 event.

Khan, who pitched an inning against Nicaragua and allowed two runs, relishes his role in the future of Pakistan baseball.

“It means a lot because you see the game’s growing [in Pakistan],” Khan said. “You’re able to help influence out there. I got a lot of people who reached out after the games and they sent a lot of love. Our team made an impact down in Pakistan, down in Asia and hopefully made some impact across the world to show kids that you can play baseball regardless of where you’re from.

“I would think it helped out a lot.”

Before Khan could contribute to the Pakistan national team, he had to get on its radar.

As a sophomore, Khan was a standout on Lane Tech’s JV team and was named its best pitcher. That resume helped, but Khan also tweeted an outing that was spotted by the Pakistan baseball federation. Khan was direct messaged by the federation, and was told he had an opportunity to play for the national team.

“Social media is the way, especially Twitter, for athletes,” Khan said. “It’s a way to reach out to coaches and they reach out to you.”

A lanky righty, Khan’s stuff includes a fastball, change-up, his “go-to” curve and a slider he’s working on. He will advance to the Lane Tech varsity this spring and hopes to play in college. He wants to continue to attack the game mentally and be confident on the mound.

“He’s just starting to really grow into his body as far as getting stronger and gaining control,” Lane Tech varsity coach Sean Freeman said. “His upside as a pitcher is just upward as he continues to get control. He already throws hard, but there’s a lot more in the tank the next couple years as he continues to develop.”

One area he doesn’t need to add much is maturity.

Freeman called Khan a “stand-up young man.” He cited Khan’s work volunteering at camps and with the Little League Challenger program, which is an adaptive version of the sport for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges.

Knowing Khan gave Freeman confidence he was mature enough to handle pitching in a prestigious tournament against teams with players twice his age.

“We have a lot of great kids, but he definitely has a level of maturity about him that’s probably a tick above your average high school player,” Freeman said. “He’s never too high [or] too low. He’s very calm and even-keeled. I knew he’d be able to compete, and no matter what happened that he’d stay within himself and give himself a chance, and that’s what he did.”

Indeed, Khan knows the significance of playing for Team Pakistan, something he wanted to do since he was a youngster.

“Being a role model is cool; I just kind of want to inspire kids to continue to play the game no matter where you’re from, what your background is,” Khan said. “Pakistan is a predominantly cricket country, and it just shows baseball is growing, and you have those kids that want to go out there but just don’t know, just to continue to play and show what they’ve got.”

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