Vasami Bringing His Bat to Notre Dame

At 6-5, 230 pounds, Chris Vasami is a big man. The Mamaroneck, NY native is also one heck of a baseball player. Coach Paul Mainieri was looking for some true hitters with some pop in their bats and Vasami certainly fits the bill. Vasami committed to Mainieri last year and is committed to bringing his confidence, his bat and his arm to the Notre Dame baseball team.

Chris Vasami had a spectacular senior season. His team finished 24-6 and they were one win away from going to the State Finals. He finished his career at Mamaroneck high school as the all-time hits leader with 120 and holds the single-game strikeout record with 17 in seven innings. He was named the Class AA player of the year and first team All-State. He was also voted on the Coaches Diamond Nine Scholar Athlete team. Vasami finished his season 10-1 on the mound with 106 strikeouts and a .067 ERA in 62 innings while issuing only 22 walks. He also finished the season hitting .539 with a .987 slugging percentage, 32 RBI, 13 doubles and seven home runs. Vasami also walked 23 times and was hit by a pitch 15 times.

Vasami was considered one of the best hitters in the country in 2002. Team One Baseball rated him No. 7 among draft-eligible high school players for "best raw power." Team One Baseball also rated him No. 10 for "best linedrive power" and No. 14 for "best pure hitter."

Vasami says he will play some first base for the Irish but could also pitch or play some outfield. "They told me that they wanted my bat in the lineup," said Vasami. "I will probably play an outfield position or first base. My game is pretty versatile and I think that is what they liked about me. They also said they will take a look at me on the mound."

Vasami isn't concerned about his position, he just wants to get on the field. "I just want a chance to play, it doesn't matter which position I play. Just a chance to play every day would be great."

Coach Paul Mainieri gets excited when talking about Chris Vasami. "Vasami is just a big man," said Mainieri when asked about Vasami. "He's a big, strong man. I can tell you he's going to be a fearless guy. He's got as much confidence as anyone could possibly have. He's very intimidating when he's in the batters box. It's just going to be a matter of seeing what kind of consistency he will show and if he can hit the pitching that he faces in college."

Mainieri was also impressed with Vasami as a leader. "He's such a strong guy and has a really strong personality. He about crushes your hand when you shake hands with him. He looks like he's got great leadership ability. He's got that take-charge attitude about him on the field and I think others will follow him. He also pitches and throws the ball 90+ miles an hour. He's kind of raw on the mound but we're going to work with him and see if we can't teach him some of the finer points of pitching. He probably wouldn't be a starter for us but could be a two-way player that can help us on the mound."

Notre Dame had been the school that Vasami was interested in all along. "They called me on July 1st. I have always been a Notre Dame fan because of football but I never thought I would have a chance to go to school there. It's something that just kind of came out of the blue. I'd always thought that I would go down south to play ball. Then Notre Dame called and I took a genuine interest."

The Irish coaching staff was one of the main reasons Vasami chose the Irish. "The coaches are a bunch of classy guys. Everything about them and they way they recruited me was class. They've shown that they know what it takes to win. They have a program that has taken a step up each year. For me to come in and become a part of that program is very exciting."

The Notre Dame campus and the big Michigan win last year also helped make his decision. "I visited for the Michigan game and that was a great game. The campus is an amazing place. As soon as I stepped on campus I got a feeling in my stomach that didn't go away until I left. It's a great place to be and I felt real comfortable. The guys on the team had a lot to do with it too. I got along with all of them real well and they made me feel welcomed."

The summer has been busy for Vasami. He played in the National All-Star game with current commitment Jeff Manship. "It was great getting to know Jeff. We faced each other and his curveball is pretty nasty. I lined a double off him though. I just took the pitch and lined it into right. I'm just glad he's on my team and I don't have to face him."

Vasami was also invited to try out for the Team USA All-Stars in Joplin, MO. "Jeff (Manship) and Sean (Gaston) were also there. I didn't make the team but I did pretty well. I was 7-for-14 out there with a home run, a triple, three doubles and a few singles. I hit four balls 400 feet but wasn't picked. I don't know why I wasn't picked but I'm not worried about it. It was a lot of fun."

Vasami is also playing for the Long Island Tigers this summer. He set the Long Island Tigers record with a .525 batting average in the summer of 2001 before hitting .398 with the Tigers in 2002 of the summer wooden-bat league.

Vasami says he thinks he can help the Irish this year. "I think I'm a good hitter. I just try to drive the ball and hit it as hard as I can. I go with the pitch and hit it hard wherever the pitch takes me. I just want to compete for a job playing every day. I don't care where I play, I just want to contribute to the team every day. I can't wait for August to get here so I can get started."

Vasami shows the same confidence on the phone that Mainieri talks about on the field. He and his family are such a pleasure to talk to on the phone. I have a feeling that Chris Vasami is going to hit a lot of home runs for Paul Mainieri and for Irish baseball and will shrug it off like it's no big deal. I think Mainieri hit a home run in signing this classy and confident kid and I'm sure Mainieri would agree with me.

Notre Dame Sport Information contributed to this story.


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