Slammers Zach Kirtley Breaks Down His Hot Start
By Jimmy Lynn
JOLIET, IL—A few short months ago, most players in the 2020 City of Champions Cup did not envision themselves playing baseball this summer amid the ongoing pandemic. With the season now underway in Joliet, players such as Joliet Slammers infielder Zach Kirtley are taking advantage of the restored sense of normalcy to focus on baseball.
“I feel like, the past few years, I’ve gotten away from being myself—being the hitter that I am,” Kirtley said. “In this time that I’ve had, I’ve just been focused on getting in the right mentality again.”
Kirtley’s recalibrated approach at the plate this summer has yielded impressive results already: He has nine hits through just 20 at bats and leads all hitters in the 2020 City of Champions Cup with four home runs.
Kirtley has proven himself a capable home run hitter, bashing 13 home runs throughout his three-year collegiate career at Saint Mary’s College of California. Even Kirtley himself, however, is surprised by his power surge to begin the 2020 season.
“I don’t think that I’m a big-time power guy,” Kirtley said. “I just try to put the barrel on the baseball, and whatever happens after that is out of my control.”
As a college prospect, scouts were drawn to Kirtley primarily for his advanced eye at the plate rather than his raw power potential. Kirtley set the single season walk record (48) at Saint Mary’s College of California in 2017 and has already walked in over 17% of his plate appearances for the Joliet Slammers in 2020.
“I make a really strong point to not give pitchers anything for free,” Kirtley said on his approach at the plate. “I try not to chase bad pitches, or give good pitches away. There’s not much room to do that at this level.”
Kirtley’s professional hitting approach helped him get drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft. Like thousands of other minor leaguers in 2020, Kirtley was released by his organization in May due to COVID-related concerns, complicating the landscape of Minor League Baseball. Kirtley wants to make his opportunity count with the Joliet Slammers this summer to continue his progression in professional baseball.
“Times are hard with baseball right now,” Kirtley said of his plans for the 2021 season. “Hopefully, I’ll be playing for another organization. That’s what I came out here to do—that’s one of my goals while I’m here, for sure.”
Kirtley seems to be on the right track in making that goal a reality. He leads the first-place Slammers in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
Next, the Slammers take on the Chicago Deep Dish at 1:05pm on Saturday 8/1. Come and watch Zach Kirtley anchor the offense while the Slammers chase their seventh straight win!
About the Joliet Slammers: The Joliet Slammers play at DuPage Medical Group Field in downtown Joliet, Illinois. They will play their 10th season in 2020. Visit the Slammers online at www.jolietslammers.com or call the office at 815-722-2287 for more information. Don’t forget to “Like” the Slammers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jolietslammers or follow them on Twitter at @jolietslammers and Instagram at @jolietslammersofficial
Joliet Slammers Contact:
Kaitlyn Altmann- Marketing and Promotions Manager