Q-and-A with Zach Mandelblatt, Joliet Slammers
June 28, 2012 7:06PM
Zach Mandelblatt, of the Joliet Slammers. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:23AM
The 25-year-old outfielder from Lake Oswego, Ore., is in his first season with the Slammers. Although he’s hitting around .200, Mandelblatt leads the team in home runs and RBI.
How did you do in high school and college?
I was not a great high school player. I went to a Division III school, Pomona College in California. I fixed my swing and was player of the year in the division sophomore year. Junior year I messed up my wrist. Senior year I played with a cast on. I didn’t get drafted.
How did you handle not getting drafted?
It was tough because I thought I deserved it. I wasn’t playing as well as I could because I had this impediment. After I graduated I wanted to keep playing and went to the Arizona Winter League.
Where did you start in pro ball?
I played for the Orange County Flyers in the summer of 2010. Still had my cast on, didn’t get to play a lot. I went to play in Australia on a club team and started to find my swing again. I came back, the Flyers folded.
What happened when last year looked bleak?
I didn’t have any place to play the first month. I thought my career was done. I went to tryouts and played for the McAllen Thunder in the North American League. I had a good season and (Slammers manager) Bart (Zeller) traded for me.
When did you develop home run power?
I first started to show power my sophomore year in college. I don’t have prodigious power, but I have some.
Do you see a future in baseball?
I have a degree, so when I’m done with baseball I’ll be able to make a good living. I don’t feel I’ve maxed out my potential. I want to play until “OK, you’re not going to get any farther.” Every year I’ve been healthy, I’ve had a lot of success.
What are your outside interests?
I play guitar, I play piano. I play a lot of poker. I like to play mostly rock. My buddies and I hopefully are going to start a band.
How does the season look?
I wouldn’t be surprised if we ripped off 10 in a row. We’ve had some guys injured. I think we’ve been underperforming. I think we’re ready to settle into a stretch of playing like we can.
As told to Tim Tierney