Alumni Update: 3B Kevin Czarnecki (Fort Hays State University - NCAA DII)
Kevin Czarnecki is a junior third-baseman for Fort Hays State University, a NCAA DII program in Kansas. He played for the Prospects Academy for two years, from 2009 to 2011, before receiving a full scholarship and playing his first two years of college at Garden City CC, a junior college in Kansas. He hit .296 with 12 doubles, a home run, and had 38 RBI last season for Garden.
First off, thanks for doing this. How was your first semester at Hays? How does being at a four-year university differ from being at a junior college.
My first semester was awesome. One of the biggest differences is the age gap between players. You have freshman and seniors, whereas in junior college there's usually only a one-year age gap. Another difference, on the field, is how you see guys on the bump who can find ways to get hitters out a lot more effectively.
What do you mean by that, how is the pitching more challenging?
Pitchers in the MIAA conference don't generally run it up there at 88-90. We will see maybe a handful who can do that, but the rest have much better off-speed pitches and breaking balls. They can pitch backwards a lot more effectively. So I definitely won't be seeing as many fastballs as I'm used to.
You spent your first two years at Garden City in Kansas. What was the highlight for you there.
The highlight for me was my sophomore year. I thought I made huge adjustments in some areas, mainly going from having the worst walk to strikeout ratio as a freshman to the best a year later, while increasing my average and keeping up a lot of my offensive numbers like RBI's and extra-base hits.
You definitely made some big strides in that time frame. What adjustments allowed you to make those improvements? What advice would you give to some of our hitters looking to make the jump to play at the next level?
The biggest adjustment I made was shortening up with two strikes. I'm not big on choking up on the bat, but what I'm talking about is mentally getting into the mindset of taking a good short, compact swing. Advice I'd give would be stick with your approach, 100 percent, slow the game down, and don't try to do too much. I say this because when I was a freshman that was the hardest thing for me to do; slow the game down. That's the first thing you'll notice when you move to college, is that the game is just a lot faster.
One last question, what sticks out to you about your time as a Prospect? Any favourite memories?
My favourite time in the Academy days was always being on the road. Being on the road with our guys was awesome and we ended up winning some big-time tournaments. I loved playing with the guys we had, because when we were in the big games I knew every single guy was going to do everything they could to win. Those games are some of my best memories.
Kevin, thanks a lot for doing this and best of luck this spring down in Kansas!
Czarnecki this fall with Ft. Hays