Pitchers often fail to develop as hitters due to the amount of time they spend on the mound.
Tazewell (Va.) junior pitcher Zak Wasilewski will have the opportunity to hone his hitting skills this spring. In fact, that’s all the South Carolina commitment may do during the 2011 season.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was playing in a showcase game last fall at East Carolina when his arm went dead on him. An examination revealed ligament damage in his left, throwing arm that forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery with well-known Birmingham, Ala., doctor James Andrews in October.
Wasilewski was recently cleared to bat, but it’s unlikely he’ll pitch or play in the outfield this season. He was recruited by USC at both positions, though his left-handed fastball, which has reached 93 miles per hour, is certainly an attractive option on the mound.
“I’ll probably DH the entire year,” said Wasilewski, who committed to the Gamecocks last month. “I started throwing about four weeks ago. It feels great, no pain at all and no tightness or soreness. So, I think I should be better.”
Wasilewski was a first-team all-state outfielder last season. He’s shown nearly as much promise in the field as he has on the mound, but Tazewell coach Lou Peery doesn’t plan to risk his future by putting him into a throwing situation this season.
“He’ll probably be ready to throw by the end of March,” the coach said. “He could probably throw a couple of innings, but I won’t throw him at all since he’s just a junior.
“He has a future. We try to coach for the next level, which is college, but I think he’ll go beyond that.”
As a center fielder, Wasilewski uses his 6.7 speed in the 60-yard dash to cover a lot of ground, Peery said. His strong arm allows him to throw out runners at any base if he’s unable to make the catch.
He hit .535 last season after hitting better than .400 as a freshman in 2009. He serves as the team’s No. 2 hitter, allowing Peery and Co. to ensure that he’s going to get as many at bats as possible.
But his future may well be solely as a pitcher. If he’s able to regain his health and straighten out some control issues, which dogged him in 2010, he has a chance to be a special player, Peery said.
Wasilewski fell in love with the atmosphere in Columbia. He took a number of visits to schools in the region that he liked and eventually chose the Gamecocks over Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
“I think he’ll fit in well,” Peery said. “Coach [Ray] Tanner is a great coach, and he’s been very successful. Zak is a worker, so I think that will fit in well. I think that’s what coach Tanner is looking for and is what Zak is looking for, too, somebody that wants to strive and make the program as good as it can be.”