Feb. 7, 2013

CBI MAAC preview

Inside: With Canisius' Jon Fitzsimmons

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com  @RoadToOmaha


Jon Fitzsimmons (left) might be one of the best returning closers in the nation.


The junior right-hander from London, Ontario, set program records a season ago with 25 appearances and 11 saves for Canisius. Fitzsimmons topped the Metro Atlantic with those 11 saves and also owns the school’s career record with 12 saves. He converted 11 of 13 save opportunities while going 3-2 with a 1.54 ERA. Fitzsimmons averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings and held opponents to a .182 batting average, including .086 with two outs. The Golden Griffins were 33-27 overall in 2012 and 16-8 in the MAAC.


This past summer, Fitzsimmons was 3-1 with one save and a 5.84 ERA for the Front Royal Cards of the Valley League. In 18 appearances out of the pen, he walked 10 and struck out 46 in 24.2 innings for an impressive 16.8 strikeouts per nine innings.


Fitzsimmons made 10 relief appearances as a freshman, recording one save and averaging 10.97 punchouts per nine innings.


1. What was the biggest factor in your effectiveness as a closer this past season?
I think that it was taking each outing one pitch at a time and not getting ahead of myself. I found I wasn't successful when I started thinking about striking someone out when it was early in the count or ending the game before I'd even thrown a pitch. Also, realizing that the last inning is no different than any other inning before it - the goal is to get three outs.

2. In what areas will you look to improve in 2013?

Consistency. Trying to have a consistent delivery as well as three consistent pitches will help me worry about where I'm throwing the ball, rather than how I'm throwing it. I also want to continue to getting stronger on the mound, both physically and mentally.

3. How was your experience in the Valley League this past summer with the Front Royal Cards?
Now I see it as a learning experience. When something goes wrong, like losing one of your pitches, you have to learn how to manage the situation to the best of your ability. By the end of the season I found out how to do that and I'm sure that will help me in the future.

4. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make two years ago, going from secondary school in Canada to college at Canisius?
Like any high school league, there were hitters who couldn't catch up to your fastball and others that would swing at bad pitches. When I came to college I started facing more disciplined hitters that had no problem hitting my fastball. I had to learn how to mix in my off-speed pitches regularly and how to locate my fastball a lot better.

5. What will be the keys for the Golden Griffins to have success this season?

We have a great group of guys this year with a lot of talent. If one guy isn't performing at his best we need to have another guy ready to step in and pick him up until he gets back on track. If we stay committed to each other I think we'll go a long way.


(photos courtesy of Canisius Media Relations)