MadFriars' Interview: Jeremy Baltz

LAKE ELSINORE - Jeremy Baltz, 22, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the second round of the 2012 draft. He was considered one of the more college players in the draft with assets everyone looks for in an offensive player; patience and power.

Baltz is from upstate New York, where he attended Vestal High School before matriculating at St. John's University in the Big East Conference. In three years with the Red Storm he hit .352/.452/.600.

In his pro debut he was arguably the best hitter in Eugene, hitting .281/.375/.414 with 33 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 14 attempts. He began the year with Fort Wayne in the Midwest League but very few hit well in the low temperatures of northeastern Indiana in April.

As with Justin Miller and Casey McElroy last year, Baltz was in the midst of a so-so season when he got promoted to Lake Elsinore and really began to hit.

In his first ten games he hit .405 with power but has cooled down since. He is still putting up very good number in the Cal League where he is hitting .289/.353/.452.

We see so many times that players are putting up so-so numbers in Low-A Fort Wayne and then you come up to a higher league in Lake Elsinore and everyone hits better.


Jeremy Baltz: I don't know if its the weather here but when you do start off the season in Fort Wayne you are playing in thirty and forty degree weather and it's tough.

It's very difficult. Also in the beginning the pitching is a little ahead of the hitting but at the all-star break we started to catch up.

Coming here the weather is nicer and many of the parks are better places to hit with shorter grass, so the ball carries through the infield better.

You went to St. John's so you must be used to playing in cold weather.

What is it like to hit 90 mph pitches with a wood bat in cold weather?

Jeremy Baltz: It's pretty tough. When you get jammed you have sore thumbs and you feel that the ball doesn't jump off of the bat. It's just easier to hit in better weather which is why I think you see the jump in the statistics at places like this.

Doesn't the better weather make it easier for you to be consistent? Which is the whole key to moving up different levels?

Jeremy Baltz: I think so. Especially here where you don't have to worry about rain or cold weather. It's hot in Lake Elsinore. It's hot everyday in Lake Elsinore.

In Fort Wayne it could be raining, which leads to rain delay and all sorts of other things. So yes, its easier to focus on what you have to do here. But then again, you have to get it done in Fort Wayne or wherever you are playing.

This is your first full year. How is it getting used to playing a full professional season?

Jeremy Baltz: It is tough. In college I played about 65 games and then played about 70 in Eugene last year. So it was a lot.

This year it kind of helped me being called up in mid-season so it was like having a fresh start. It is more of a grind especially now in August and you just have to really stay mentally strong and push through it.

You played in a Division I program and in the Cape Cod League in the summer during college. How is this different?

Jeremy Baltz: It is a lot different. The Cape Cod League is about a month or month and half and around 35 games.

The grind of the amount of games that you have as a professional combined with the work we do before the games really makes it a long year.

College doesn't really prepare you for this. I mean you might play four and really rarely five games in a week. Here we played 26 games in a row at one point when we started the second half of the year and you don't play any of them half speed.

It is a physically demanding game and will wear on your body. For a seven o'cock game most of us are here by 1:30 and sometimes we are even out on the field at one for workouts. When the weather is hot for a hundred and forty games it will wear on you.

When you were drafted the initial descriptions of you were kind of misleading. You were kind of portrayed as some type of six-foot three, 250 lbs. guy in the outfield killing grass. However after watching you play you are more athletic than most people may have been led to believe.

What other positions do you play other than left?

Jeremy Baltz: Right now just left and DH when I'm not in the field.

All of you guys want to get to the majors as quickly as you can and most of you believe the more positions you can play the better off you will be.

How do you respectfully lobby coaches to play more positions?

Jeremy Baltz: You don't [laughs]. It's pro ball and you are getting paid. We do what we are told. You have other guys that are great athletes here like Travis Jankowski and Corey Adamson so I'm not going to try and play over them.

Left field fits me well. Left fielders are supposed to hit and make the plays that come to them and I can do that.

What was the biggest surprise at playing pro ball?

Jeremy Baltz: Just the mental and physical grind. Everyday doing the same thing and trying to get better at it.

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