The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Young Baltz’s hot bat leads baseball team

Jeremy Baltz did it again.

Down 5-4 at the bottom of the seventh inning on Tuesday night with runners on second and third, the freshman outfielder lined a singled off Princeton reliever Ryan Makis to give St. John’s the lead for good.

“He’s been doing it all year long,” teammate Jimmy Brennan said. “He’s the guy you want up in a late game situation.”

Baltz, drafted in the 45th round by the New York Yankees in last year’s MLB
First Year Player Draft, entered last
night’s game second on the team in batting average (.392), first in home runs (8),
and tied for first in RBI (40).

In February against New Orleans, the outfielder had a even more clutch performance – a game-winning two-out, two-run double in the 12th inning to give the Red Storm a 5-2 win.

“He’s done a good job,” St. John’s head coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “He competes. He is very good with runners in scoring position. That’s his job and
there is an art to it. For a freshman,
it’s impressive.”

Coming out of Vestal High School in Vestal, NY, Baltz was named first team all-New York State and helped the Golden Bears win three sectional championships and two conference titles. Despite the accomplishments, he never had intentions of making the jump to the majors.

“It was a great accomplishment [to
get drafted] and an awesome experience, but honestly [to be selected] that late
in the draft and what we have going
here, it really wasn’t an option,” Baltz
said. “I love the coaching staff, I love
the players, and I love the atmosphere. Just playing on this team with these
great bunch of kids, I pretty much
knew I wanted to come here and play.”

Blankmeyer sees great potential in Baltz. If he improves his defense, baserunning, throwing arm, and overall hitting I.Q., Blankmeyer says, he could see him developing into a very high draft pick.

“He’s got good potential,”
Blankmeyer said.

Despite the monster numbers, Baltz insists the transition wasn’t easy. He
even said the toughest transition, by
far, has been getting used to college-level pitching.

“In high school [and] summer ball you occasionally face good pitchers,” Baltz said. “But game in and game out, there is always a good pitcher. If you are in a
slump it’s tough to rely on there being
a down pitcher.”

“The breaking balls is another big difference. You don’t see as many good curveballs in high school. Pretty
much everybody we have faced has
thrown a good off speed pitch. It hasn’t
been easy.”

Brennan, who was also drafted in the 45th round by the Detroit Tigers, has also been impressed with Baltz’s smooth transition.

“It’s been extremely impressive,” Brennan said. “It’s a tough jump to go from high school to college ball. Not everybody makes the same adjustments like Jeremy has. He’s got a big bat and he swings it.”

Baltz has been named onto the Big East Weekly Honor Roll twice.

Blankmeyer believes he is on the same level has some of the other freshman All Americans who played at St. John’s. Most recently, former outfielder Brian Kemp was named to Baseball America’s Second Team Freshman All American team in 2007.

“We’ve had several freshman All Americans and he’s right in there with them,” Blankmeyer said.

Playing roughly 20 baseball games in the high school season, Baltz will be playing in his 35th game with St. John’s tomorrow against Fordham – which is already more than a season and a half worth of games.

Baltz, who went 2-for-3 against Princeton Tuesday with 3 RBI, is showing no signs of slowing down.

“He’s really done some special
things,” Brennan said. “It will be exciting
to see what he can do for the rest of
the season and rest of his career.”

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