For most of his 30 years, almost all of them in fact, these are the kinds of baseball players Tony Boyd has coached.

Here, on the mound: the big kid with the big delivery, grunting as he throws a heater that tops out at 80 mph. There, on the basepaths: the skinny kid who coaxed the ball into the gap with a mighty swat, then advanced to third on the throw and on home when the ball skipped away.

You can lead a full, satisfying, entirely rewarding career coaching kids like that in the spring, when the East Paulding High Raiders compete in the Georgia Five-A Region, or in the summer, on a day like this, during the more informal summer tournament circuit. These future teachers, lawyers, clerks, salesmen, they play hard for Tony Boyd.

“It’s a joyful way to make a living,” he says.

And then there is the one that takes a coach’s breath away, even in memory. There is the one who, even as a 16-year-old sophomore, makes you gasp with wonder when you close your eyes and hear the baseball colliding with the catcher’s mitt, and who, by the time he’s a senior, makes you want to savor every second you get to spend around him.

For Tony Boyd, there was Zack Wheeler.

“Here’s what you do when you coach a kid like that,” Boyd says, sitting in the third-base bleachers at his home stadium, watching his summer team put an eight-spot up in the second inning on visiting Paulding County. “You make sure you don’t forget to put his name in the lineup every day.”

He laughs.

“You only get the privilege of coaching a player like that but once in a lifetime,” he says, “and you better not do anything to mess it up.”

The Raiders made the Georgia state final four in Wheeler’s senior year, 2009, when he went 9-0 with a 0.54 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings before the Giants selected him with the sixth pick in the draft. Two years later, at 21, just a relative handful of professional appearances under his belt, he was traded to the Mets for a borderline Hall of Famer, Carlos Beltran.