Talented individuals are labeled as prospects and finding the rhythm and timing can be difficult – the basics are forgotten as they struggle to push through and see results.
Realizing that those fundamentals often lead to success is a difficult thing to face when they have routinely had success at other places.
Garner Wetzel was that player last season. He had immense success in college but experienced struggles during his first professional season.
Playing for the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League to begin the season, Wetzel could not find his timing with the stick.
"It was a fun year but there were ups and downs and that is how baseball comes at you," said Wetzel. "The game was a little fast last season. There was a month break where I didn't get to play much and jumping back into the game – the speed changes, better pitchers, pitchers locating better than in college and adjusting to the wood bat – it all adds up for quite a jump."
After netting two hits in his debut, Wetzel would go 1-for-21 over his next six games and never hit above .231 the rest of the way, settling in at .208 before being sent down to the Arizona Rookie League.
He did not fare much better in the desert, collecting two hits in 15 at bats before his season came to an end.
It was the mental grind – preparing and not playing everyday – that also hindered his development.
Thus, the off-season was a nice time to find his chi.
"The off-season gives you time to prepare mentally," said Wetzel. "You don't have to worry about college seasons, graduating and things like that. It was nice to get away and focus on the things I needed to get done and it is great to be back out here and back in the game."
One of the challenges he faces is keeping his attitude in check. He is an emotional spitfire that will let his anger show – a trademark that will have to be refined.
Wetzel realizes he wears his emotions on his sleeve and hopes to find the balance.
"Absolutely," Wetzel said of having attitude and aggressiveness on the field. "That is part of the game. For most of us, you have to have an aggressiveness to play this game. It has to be a controlled aggressiveness and you have to focus your attention on the right things in the right manner at the right time. Hopefully, it adds up to a good combination on getting things accomplished out on the field. That is what I have been trying to focus on."
But how is the bat?
"It is getting better," he said. "Getting back out here and around the guys puts the fire back in you. I am ready to get after it.
"This off-season I focused on staying through the ball more, squaring it up. With a wooden bat you can't just swing at bad pitches and get away with a lot of things. I just focused on staying through the ball and hitting it on the nose, squaring it up every time."