Lansford a little like his dad

Maybe you've never seen Cubs sixth-round draft pick Josh Lansford play ball. Or have you? Regardless, Cal Poly head baseball coach Larry Lee believes there are a few similarities between the younger Lansford and his father, Carney, a former batting champion with the Angels and a 15-year major league veteran.

A third-round draft pick by the Angels in 1975, Carney Lansford went on to have a successful major league career that included an all-star appearance in 1988 and an American League batting title with the Red Sox in 1981. He finished that year batting .336 and became a career. 290 hitter.

Now 49 and retired from baseball altogether following a two-year stint as Tony La Russa's bench coach with the Cardinals in 1997 and ‘98, Lansford has spent the past several years from the family's home in California, working closely with his two sons: Jared, a second-round pick by the Oakland A's in 2005, and Josh, who was drafted on Tuesday by the Cubs.

(On a completely unrelated note, the elder Lansford was credited for a small part in the 1994 Disney movie "Angels in the Outfield." According to Josh, his father often jokes that he is remembered more for his fictional role as Kit "Hit or Die" Kesey than as a former major league infielder.)

Josh Lansford himself began his college career as a freshman with San Jose State in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 2004. After one season, he transferred to Cal Poly after being wooed away from Oklahoma State University by the Mustang program.

Cal Poly head baseball coach Larry Lee was glad that he was.

"He really developed with us, especially on the offensive end," Lee said when describing the 21-year-old, 6'3", 215 lb Lansford. "He had a great year offensively and he has the ability to be a very solid defensive third baseman with his plus arm."

A four-year coach with the Mustangs who had previously spent 16 seasons with Cuesta College (also in San Luis Obispo), Lee notices certain similarities between Lansford and his father.

"They're very similar," Lee notes. "He reminds me of his dad a lot. His dad was very much a very hard-nosed type of ballplayer. He was more of a gap hitter and so is Josh. However, Josh has learned to elevate the ball more and he hit with much more power in his second year with us."

As the starting third baseman for the Mustangs in 2006, Lansford hit .353 in 56 games and was one of five players from Cal Poly selected on day one of this year's amateur draft.

He totaled 12 doubles, three triples and seven home runs while driving in 39. He slugged over .500 and reached base at a .405 clip while boasting a 16-game hitting streak and leading the team with 26 multi-hit games. His numbers with the bat spiked noticeably following a 2005 season that saw him bat .276 with fewer extra base hits and a lower on-base percentage.

In terms of power, Lee believes Lansford now has a chance to at least match the same numbers his father put up, if not surpass them.

"Carney only hit 19 home runs for a career-high. Of course, you have to remember that it was a different era back then," reminded Lee. "I think Carney would have been a 30-plus home run player in this era. At this point in his career hitting-wise, Josh is still a gap hitter who's learning how to become more of a power hitter."

In the field, Lansford committed 16 errors for a .918 fielding percentage in 2006. Lee doesn't seem overly concerned with those numbers.

"He's got a great step defensively and has an excellent ball transfer, so he's still a plus defensive player overall," Lee said. "He has a very good knowledge of the game. He has an excellent chance of being successful in professional baseball."


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