Feb. 2, 2012

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Nine Innings with Jeremy Baltz

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

Phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @RoadToOmaha


Junior outfielder Jeremy Baltz of St. John's is not only one of the top players in the Big East, but in all of college baseball. He was voted preseason Player of the Year in the Big East by the conference coaches and is a preseason All-American. Baltz batted .311 a season ago with 12 doubles, six homers and 60 RBI. He posted a slugging percentage of .483 and on-base percentage of .444. A native of Vestal, N.Y., Baltz helped St. John’s reach the NCAA Regionals for the second straight year. Baltz hit .396 as a freshman with 16 doubles, 24 homers and 85 RBI in earning All-America honors.


Baltz recently took time to answer our questions.


First Inning – What made the transition into college baseball so smooth for you offensively during your freshman season?

In high school I had a lot of success hitting fastballs, but I didn't have much experience hitting offspeed pitches. During the fall of my freshman season, my coaches really had me concentrate on hitting curveballs and sliders by keeping my hands back and using the entire field. I think this helped my transition into college baseball mostly by becoming more of a complete hitter.


Second Inning – Your batting average was down during your sophomore season, but your on-base percentage was still high. Were you more patient at the plate than you were as a freshman?

The new bats in college baseball hurt me mentally at the plate during my sophomore year because I was trying to do way too much to compensate. I struggled the entire year so I tried to just concentrate on keeping things simple and taking what the pitcher gave me, whether that be a walk or a hit by pitch.


Third Inning – Were you surprised to get a second straight trip to Charlottesville last year for regionals?

That was a pretty surreal moment when we saw St. John's come up on the screen during the college baseball selection show. The only problem was we had to go to Virginia again and face off against Danny Hultzen, who was probably the most advanced pitcher I have ever faced. Still, Charlottesville was a great host for two straight years - we just wish we could have had better results there.


Fourth Inning – How have expectations changed over the past three years for St. John's baseball?

I don't think expectations have changed for the coaches and players of St. John's Baseball - we have always been confident against every opponent we face. I just think that we have gained a little more recognition because of the success we had in the past two seasons. Hopefully this year we can break that barrier and reach a Super Regional.


Fifth Inning – What do you see as the team goals for 2012?

Our main team goal is to break that barrier like I said before and reach a Super Regional and ultimately go to Omaha. But to reach our goal we will just have to take it game by game and come to the field everyday ready to play.


Sixth Inning – Do you have personal goals as well for the upcoming season?

My only personal goal is to help my team win no matter what that takes. I try not to worry about stats because if I'm helping my team win then the numbers will come.


Seventh Inning – You were voted Big East Preseason Player of the Year by the head coaches. Does that put additional pressure on you this season?

It is an honor to be named Big East Preseason Player of the Year but it is only a preseason award and the only awards that count are the ones that come at the end of the year. I don't feel pressure from such an award - I am just going to try to have fun every day, enjoy the moment, and like I said before, help my team win.


Eighth Inning – You earned three letters in high school in basketball. Is there anything you learned in basketball that helps you with baseball?

I was very aggressive in basketball and I try to take that aggression onto the baseball field as well. I know I have to remain in control but controlled aggression is important at the plate, on the base paths, and in the outfield.


Ninth Inning – Are you a New York Giants fan? Do you have a prediction on the Super Bowl?

I'm not going to make any predictions because I don't want to jinx anything.  All I can say is... Go Giants.


(photos courtesy of St. John's Media Relations Office)