Dre Gleason’s mom has been asked for years how her son got to be such a big dude.
And she admits, she doesn’t know how it happened.
Little Dre was her five-pound bundle of joy at birth. But sometime early in his infancy, he just started growing and didn't seem to stop.
And “Big Dre,” as some teammates and fans call him, has continued to grow into a 6’3, 230-pound big man on campus at , where even as a sophomore, he stars on the baseball field for the varsity Panthers, earning him the O’Fallon Patch's Spotlight Athlete of the Week.
“He’s definitely a deserving kid,” Zumwalt North head baseball coach Steve Siebert said. “Somebody’s coached him right. He’s got a lot of talent, and we’re just happy to have him.”
No doubt they are, as Gleason has been one of the top hitters in the entire St. Louis area this season.
Heading into today’s Fort Zumwalt North Tournament championship game clash against rival Fort Zumwalt East High at the No. 1 Field at Ozzie Smith Park in O’Fallon, Gleason is hitting .421, with a .535 on-base average, and a .719 slugging percentage.
Those numbers all rank among the best for any player in the area, and rank in the top three in each category amongst sophomores in the area.
“I just try to hit line drives,” Gleason said. “I look for fastballs, and try to adjust to off-speed (pitches). I just try to hit line drives to the opposite-field. The home runs and stuff will come.”
Within the GAC North, Gleason’s numbers look even better. He ranks near the top in every category, including total bases, extra-base hits, walks, and runs scored, and leads the league with four home runs, and ranks second with 24 RBIs.
And remember, he’s still only in the 10th grade.
“I don’t think (grade-level) should have anything to do with it,” Gleason said. “Just talent and hustle at practice.”
Big Dre proved that point back in March, when he blasted two home runs in the season opener, his first varsity game mind you, against Francis Howell North High.
“That was really great,” Gleason said. “It set off my season, and it’s been going great ever since.”
North High headed into the weekend with a 12-5 record, and is tied with Fort Zumwalt South and Fort Zumwalt East for first place in the GAC North.
This weekend's showdown with the Lions won’t affect the conference standings, but it is for the North High Tournament title, and could have some bearing on seedings when the district playoffs roll around two weeks from today.
Gleason, who started the year as the bullpen closer for the Panthers, took the mound as the starting pitcher in this weekend's championship game.
In his last start on April 8, the fireballing righthander threw a complete-game, five-hit shutout at Wentzville Holt High, and Siebert is hoping for the same kind of effectiveness today.
“Dre’s got some talents that nobody else has,” Siebert said. “Obviously, he can hit. He generates a lot of power. He’s got great natural ability. So when I work with Dre, because he’s young, it’s more on the mental aspect. When you get a kid like that, you just want to give him the best chance for success.”
College scouts have already taken notice, with schools like Austin Peay, Texas Southern, and Maryland already launching a recruiting war for Big Dre’s services.
“Any kid that has success that early is going to have to work on keeping a level head,” Siebert said. “He makes mistakes sometimes. But he’s a kid. He’s fun to be around, and he’s got some special talent. We’re glad to have him on our team.”
Fans can check out Big Dre and the Panthers this Tuesday, May 3, when they’ll host St. Charles West High at 4:30 p.m.