TAMPA (FOX 13) - Once the top-rated high school baseball player in the country, Lance McCullers is now pitching at the top of his game. The Tampa native helped clinch the Astros spot in the World Series and now those closest to him are getting ready to watch him pitch on baseball's biggest stage.
Lance McCullers has always stood out from his peers, both on and off the field. He's best known for what he does on the mound, but behind the scenes, he's much more than a pitcher.
"His baseball talent is obviously what separates him from a lot of others, but he was always a leader. He was always someone that looked after his teammates; he was always someone that looked after my family and my two boys," said McCullers' high school coach, Richie Warren.
Warren coached McCullers at Jesuit High School in Tampa from 2008 to 2012. Even then, he knew McCullers' talent was something special.
The young star lit up the radar, clocking in at speeds above 90 miles per hour.
"There was one game where he was pitching and threw a ball, and it just came out different," said Warren. "When he threw it, you knew it was something different. I looked up into the stands, I had a friend of mine that was a scout, he gave me the 1-0-0."
It has since translated to the big leagues. He helped the Astros clinch a World Series berth in a winner-take-all Game 7 in the ALCS.
As he's grown, much of him has remained the same. While in high school, he gave back to the community, volunteering with Metropolitan Ministries.
"That's just the way I want to live. That's the way everyone else should treat others," McCullers said in 2012. "From looking outside in, you may not get that from me right away, but if you get to know me, I'm a guy who's caring, I care about other people. I think that athletes should be more giving, they should be the Tim Tebows of the world. They should be guys that people can look up to -- not because they're good at sports, but because they're good people."
Today, he has his own foundation to raise awareness for pet adoption. He also spends his time with up-and-coming players.
"He'll come around to Berkeley now where I'm at coaching and help with our camps, be around our players. He's just one that's always giving back," explained Warren.
McCullers is and always has been a leader both on and off the field.
He will start for the Astros in Game 3 of the World Series Friday night. That game will air on FOX . The Astros and Dodgers are tied 1-1 in the series.