Grant Larson wants to be known around the baseball community as Grant Larson, not just as the coach's son.
With the way he's been performing at the plate, in the field and on the mound in his second year with the Minot Vistas American Legion baseball team, Larson has gone from being the coach's kid to a standout player.
That doesn't mean that Larson isn't appreciative for the opportunity to play under his father, Minot coach Todd Larson. Like any relationship, there are rough patches, but the positive moments are the ones that resonate the most.
"There's good things and bad things," Grant Larson said. "The best thing about it is I get to go home and I can ask him questions. I like the whole 'being able to ask whatever I want' kind of thing."
Being the coach's son adds an extra layer of pressure for Grant Larson, but his stats have hidden any tension. He leads the team in several offensive categories, including batting average (.400), doubles (14), RBIs (58) and slugging percentage (.608). He and Brady Lampert are tied for the most home runs with four.
"He's had to prove himself more than most kids have to prove themselves just because he's the coach's kid," Todd Larson said. "If you look at him last year as a 16-year-old, he hit over .300. He works extremely hard in the offseason, things people don't see. He's in the cage every night. He has certainly worked himself into being Grant Larson, not Coach Larson's son."
Grant Larson's batting average hasn't dipped below .300 all season. He's recorded a hit in 32 of Minot's 41 games and multiple hits in 12 games.
The second-year Vista started the season batting in the three spot, but Todd Larson made the decision to move his son to the cleanup role prior to Minot's fourth doubleheader of the season. That move immediately paid dividends. Grant Larson went 8-for-8 with two home runs, three doubles, 13 RBIs and four runs scored in his first doubleheader in the four hole.
"My approach in the first half of the season, I wasn't being as aggressive as I like to be," Grant Larson said. "I was watching too many pitches go by. That whole moving to the fourth spot, I don't know if that changed by mentality. I don't know if that made a huge difference, my whole approach at the plate made a difference."
Said Todd Larson: "We talk a lot about trying to find that one good pitch, putting a good swing on that one pitch. He knows that Chandler Jacob and Alex Mack and Brady Lampert in front of him are going to get on base and he's going to have those opportunities for RBIs and so far he leads the team in RBIs."
Grant Larson is getting the job done on the mound as well. He's third on the team in innings pitched (34) and has settled into a relief role after beginning the season as a starter. In 12 appearances, Larson is 4-2 with a save and a 3.09 ERA, which is second-best on the team behind Dalton Cooper (2.55).
Grant's success puts a smile on his dad's face, but Todd Larson tries hard not to hold his son to a higher level than the rest of the team.
"I certainly try to separate it once we leave the baseball field," Todd Larson said. "We try to get that father-son relationship. Do we talk about baseball off the field? Absolutely. He's a student of the game. He's not afraid to work."
When's he's not on the hill, Grant Larson plays first base. He leads the Vistas in total chances (197) and putouts (165) and sports a .964 fielding percentage. He's assisted on 25 plays and helped turn 11 double plays.
If there's one person on the team that believes Grant Larson is much more than just the coach's son, it's Todd Larson.
"It's a lot of pressure put on him," Todd Larson said. "People look and see that he's the coach's kid, he's playing first base, he's batting fourth, but bottom line is Grant has earned everything he's getting on the baseball field."
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.