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Wake baseball coach Tom Walter: 'We want expectations to be high.'

Wake forest baseball coach Tom Walter talks on lofty expectations as the Deacs try to earn a return trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2017.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — We wrap up our four-part exclusive interview with Wake Forest baseball coach Tom Walter by looking ahead to the 2017 season and beyond for the Deacs.

On the construction along the third-base line

Walter: “That’s our player development center. Everything we’re putting in there is designed to help our players get better. We’re going to have a pitching lab, with 18 high-speed cameras, biomechanical suits that we can put kids in and find out exactly what’s going on biomechanically with our players. We’re going to slow things down, see what’s going on and get uber-technical with those guys. In addition, that will be a new players’ lounge and clubhouse. It will have a full kitchen, which will allow us to feed these guys and get them better nutrition. There will be a team meeting room, and a video room where we can break down our play better, with more equipment, monitors and data. It’s going to have a hugely increased training area. We added a weight room out here last year. One of the things that aren’t talked about enough — we talk about the skill stuff often, but we also talk about rest, recovery, strength and nutrition. Those four areas are things we focus on in the fall. We have to get their ducks in a row and get them to figure out how to become a high-performance athlete, and that’s tied into rest, recovery, nutrition and strength. And now we’re going to have all that stuff out here at our park now. There’s going to be nothing out of our control, so to speak. They’re still going to have to make good decisions at the cafeteria. They’re still going to have to get to bed at a reasonable time, but I think we’ve got the group to do that. We’ve got a bunch that are willing to make those sacrifices, because they understand what’s at stake.”

On if there’s more pressure this season after making the NCAA tourney last year and seeing the investment in the program, in hopes of maintaining the momentum and positively impacting recruiting

Walter: “Yeah. Absolutely. Our 2017 recruiting class is really good. Our 2018 class is even better, and our 2019 class is off to a good start. That facility has really helped recruiting, but you can’t just have the facility. You have to play well on the field. These kids want to play in a NCAA Tournament, but they also want to do it at home, in front of their fans. That’s the next step in our program. We have to be in the conversation to host a regional. Last year we got to a regional, now we need to be in the conversation to host. Yeah. There’s added pressure, but that’s what we want. We want expectations to be high. We want to be team that people are looking for and have circled on their schedules where they say, ‘We’ve got to play well against those guys.’ We’re at the point in our program where that’s where we are.”

On keeping tabs on what Will Craig and Nate Mondou have been doing so far at the professional level

Walter: “I text with them quite often. Nate has had a good summer, though he’s gotten a little tired and started to tail off a little bit lately. He’s been hitting .325-.330 most of the year. Will finished the season hot down the stretch and raised his batting average 80 points or so, and his power number shot up toward the end. It was good to see him cycle up at the end. He was fatigued going into it. I knew Will wouldn’t have a great statistically summer, just because of everything we asked him to do with the pitching and the hitting. He went into the summer fatigued. I knew that, and he knew that. The Pirates knew that, and they aren’t worried about this year — they’re worried about getting him ready for next year.”

On what position Craig is playing

Walter: “He’s playing third base. He’ll probably eventually flip over to first, but I think they’ll play him at third into AA and then make the change.”

On what he did exciting during the summer

Walter: “I worked with USA Baseball, which was pretty cool. I got to work with the best 2018 grads in the country. It was nice for me to get in and work with those guys, and kind of know what it’s supposed to look like, and see that skill level for those upper-end guys. It was a cool experience, and I got to coach in Wrigley Field, which was great.”

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