To say Jeremy Baltz was thrown into the fire last year with the TinCaps is an understatement.
The second-round pick of San Diego in last year’s MLB Draft was brought up from short-season Eugene in the middle of Fort Wayne’s run to the Midwest League Championship Series.
While he hit just .133 over five games during the playoffs, it was invaluable experience gained as Baltz begins his second year of professional baseball.
“I was thrown into the lineup in a pretty important time in the playoffs,” said Baltz, a 22-year-old outfielder. “The team was playing really well and we were facing some good pitching every day.
“It was good to get my feet wet so I am ready for this year.”
Baltz’s small sample size with the TinCaps last season is in no way indicative of his skills. Put simply, this kid can hit. In three seasons with St. John’s, he hit 38 home runs and drove in 197 runs while leading the program to its first Super Regional in 2012.
After being drafted, Baltz did not slow down with Eugene. He hit .281 over 70 games with five home runs, 16 doubles, 43 RBIs and 44 runs scored.
Expect the same gaudy numbers once Baltz gets completely comfortable at the low-A level with Fort Wayne.
Baltz’s approach is simple: have good at-bats every day and continue to get better. With a strong performance this season, a call-up to high-A Lake Elsinore would not be out of the realm of possibility.
But Baltz is not thinking about that as the season begins.
“That’s not really in my control,” Baltz said. “I just do what I can control, compete every day and if it works out and I get called up, I’ll obviously be thrilled. But I am not trying to think about that, just try to control what I can control.”
With his patience at the plate (33 walks in 296 at-bats with Eugene) and decent speed (12 stolen bases), Baltz appears to have the majority of the tools that could lead to a big-league career in the future. But first things first, like a quick start in Fort Wayne and perhaps helping the TinCaps to a second straight championship series appearance.
“Anything I can do to be a better ballplayer, I am going to do,” Baltz said. “I want to help the team win in any way possible.”