Berti Making Up For Lost Time

LANSING, MI - When second baseman Jon Berti was drafted in 2008 by the Oakland Athletics, he passed up the opportunity at professional baseball for college ball at Bowling Green State University. Three years later, he was an 18th-round pick by Toronto, and now he's in Lansing to make up for lost time.

During his time as at Bowling Green, Berti played shortstop under his uncle Danny Schmitz, was voted team captain and named All-Mid-American Conference. But now, his focus is entirely on the game of baseball without the distraction of classes.

"It's definitely a different type of game," Berti said. "In college, you have two jobs. You're going to school and playing baseball, where as here you have one focus and its baseball. We're at the field a lot longer and it's longer days, longer bus trips. But it's been more enjoyable just being here around the guys all the time."

This season's Spring Training was Berti's first, and manager John Tamargo said although it can be intimidating, Berti handled it very well.

"When you show up, there's 200 players and there's guys that are 35 years old and there's 16-year-old kids," he said. "There's a wide range of players and it can be kind of eye opening when you see all those guys and all those guys you're competing with. He did a really good job with it, it being his first."

Tamargo might think every player's first Spring Training is the hardest, but Berti said he prepared himself beforehand with similar types of training.

On top of working out and gaining strength in the offseason, Berti joined an instructional league to prepare him for the unusual challenges Spring Training usually presents.

"I wouldn't say it was difficult because I had gone to Instructional League after the following season last year, and Instructional League is kind of similar to spring training," he said. "I'm glad I was invited to that so I kind of had an idea of how things were. It was tough but I enjoyed it."

Hitting coach Kenny Graham gave Berti certain things to focus on regarding his swing during the offseason, and Spring Training was the perfect opportunity to show that off.

"Knowing Jon Berti, he's a grinder and he works hard," Graham said. "He came back to Spring Training looking great. All the mechanical issues we had told him to work on, he came back looking better than ever and it showed in his performance."

And since that Spring Training, Berti hasn't slowed down.

The Troy, Michigan native leads the team in OPS with .802, and is tied for team leader in RBI with 11. As the lead-off hitter, Berti is doing his job in stride with 12 walks drawn and four times HBP — exactly what Tamargo expects from him.

"[I expect him] to be the lead-off hitter, to score a lot of runs and just to progress," Tamargo said. "He's a really good player and I expect big things out of him. [He will] fine tune things he needs to work on with Kenny: his swing, his mechanics, stealing bases."

Graham said he believes that along with his speed, Berti excels in driving the ball all over the field — or out of the ballpark, when taking his one home run this season into account.

"He can really hit the ball all over the field," Graham said. "One of his strengths is driving the ball to the opposite field. He's got an ability to drive the ball all over the field."

Although Graham believes it's one of his strong points, Berti thinks his ability to use the entire field is one of the main things he needs to continue working on.

"[My] weakness is continuing to learn how to use the whole field when hitting, and defensively just learning how to stay more relaxed out there," he said.

But they both do agree on one thing: Berti has the gift of speed, and it's that gift that helps makes him the talented player he is. Berti also said he wants to continue learning how to properly use that speed he was "blessed with."

Graham affirms Berti's quick feet as a big talent, but said his swing is one of the most underestimated parts of his game.

"For him, his best tool is his speed," Graham said. "He can really, really run. People overlook the potential in his swing, he really has some sneaky pop in there and for him, it's a matter of letting that come out and trusting his swing and trusting the mechanics in his swing. That will allow him the power to come out."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nDuring his time as at Bowling Green, Berti played shortstop under his uncle Danny Schmitz, was voted team captain and named All-Mid-American Conference. But now, his focus is entirely on the game of baseball without the distraction of classes.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's definitely a different type of game,\" Berti said. \"In college, you have two jobs. You're going to school and playing baseball, where as here you have one focus and its baseball. We're at the field a lot longer and it's longer days, longer bus trips. But it's been more enjoyable just being here around the guys all the time.\"
\r\n
\r\nThis season's Spring Training was Berti's first, and manager John Tamargo said although it can be intimidating, Berti handled it very well.
\r\n
\r\n\"When you show up, there's 200 players and there's guys that are 35 years old and there's 16-year-old kids,\" he said. \"There's a wide range of players and it can be kind of eye opening when you see all those guys and all those guys you're competing with. He did a really good job with it, it being his first.\"
\r\n
\r\nTamargo might think every player's first Spring Training is the hardest, but Berti said he prepared himself beforehand with similar types of training.
\r\n
\r\nOn top of working out and gaining strength in the offseason, Berti joined an instructional league to prepare him for the unusual challenges Spring Training usually presents.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wouldn't say it was difficult because I had gone to Instructional League after the following season last year, and Instructional League is kind of similar to spring training,\" he said. \"I'm glad I was invited to that so I kind of had an idea of how things were. It was tough but I enjoyed it.\"
\r\n
\r\nHitting coach Kenny Graham gave Berti certain things to focus on regarding his swing during the offseason, and Spring Training was the perfect opportunity to show that off.
\r\n
\r\n\"Knowing Jon Berti, he's a grinder and he works hard,\" Graham said. \"He came back to Spring Training looking great. All the mechanical issues we had told him to work on, he came back looking better than ever and it showed in his performance.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnd since that Spring Training, Berti hasn't slowed down.
\r\n
\r\nThe Troy, Michigan native leads the team in OPS with .802, and is tied for team leader in RBI with 11. As the lead-off hitter, Berti is doing his job in stride with 12 walks drawn and four times HBP — exactly what Tamargo expects from him.
\r\n
\r\n\"[I expect him] to be the lead-off hitter, to score a lot of runs and just to progress,\" Tamargo said. \"He's a really good player and I expect big things out of him. [He will] fine tune things he needs to work on with Kenny: his swing, his mechanics, stealing bases.\"
\r\n
\r\nGraham said he believes that along with his speed, Berti excels in driving the ball all over the field — or out of the ballpark, when taking his one home run this season into account.
\r\n
\r\n\"He can really hit the ball all over the field,\" Graham said. \"One of his strengths is driving the ball to the opposite field. He's got an ability to drive the ball all over the field.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlthough Graham believes it's one of his strong points, Berti thinks his ability to use the entire field is one of the main things he needs to continue working on.
\r\n
\r\n\"[My] weakness is continuing to learn how to use the whole field when hitting, and defensively just learning how to stay more relaxed out there,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\nBut they both do agree on one thing: Berti has the gift of speed, and it's that gift that helps makes him the talented player he is. Berti also said he wants to continue learning how to properly use that speed he was \"blessed with.\"
\r\n
\r\nGraham affirms Berti's quick feet as a big talent, but said his swing is one of the most underestimated parts of his game.
\r\n
\r\n\"For him, his best tool is his speed,\" Graham said. \"He can really, really run. People overlook the potential in his swing, he really has some sneaky pop in there and for him, it's a matter of letting that come out and trusting his swing and trusting the mechanics in his swing. That will allow him the power to come out.\"
\r\n
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