Learning process key for Bosiokovic
There was a bit of a learning curve for Jacob Bosiokovic in his freshman season with the Ohio State baseball team.
Now the 2012 Delaware Hayes High School graduate is attempting to catch up with the speed of the collegiate game.
"I learned a lot and learned that I still have a lot more adjustments to make," said Bosiokovic, who started 55 of 58 games as the Buckeyes finished 35-23. "The pitching is obviously better and if they see a weakness, they attack you. I need to develop a better approach at the plate."
Bosiokovic, a 6-foot-6 third baseman who was named the state Division I Player of the Year as a junior and senior by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association, batted fifth for Ohio State most of the season.
The Buckeyes were seeking some offensive punch in the middle of the order after losing first baseman Josh Dezse to injury.
Bosiokovic batted .273 with 28 runs, four home runs and 33 RBI. He tied for the team lead in RBI and home runs and was fifth in runs. He tied for third in total bases (73) and was fourth (.369) in slugging percentage.
"Jake was prepared to play every day, and we were fortunate he was prepared," coach Greg Beals said. "He started in left field but we moved him to third base because it settled our outfield situation better that way.
"I had no expectations about numbers for him, but they were solid for a freshman. He was in the middle of our lineup, so we were not hiding him. In my opinion, he had a very good year."
Like many freshmen, Bosiokovic struggled early.
"I was nervous, but that was to be expected I guess," he said. "But my teammates helped me through it and told me they all went through the same thing. Although the game is faster, it was still the same game I've played all my life. Once I let that sink in, things got better."
Bosiokovic was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the week ending March 10. He went 6-for-11 with three home runs, nine RBI and three runs during the first three games in the Coastal Carolina Invitational.
While he was able to provide some pop, Bosiokovic also struggled with breaking pitches. He had more strikeouts (56) than hits (54-for-198). He also struggled defensively, making a team-high 14 errors with 133 total chances (.905 fielding percentage).
"The quality of breaking balls between high school and college is a big difference,'' Beals said. "His strikeout numbers were high, but that's not unusual for a freshman. That's part of a player's evolution. I'm sure that number will come down next season.
"He's a long kid with a long swing and we need to shorten his stroke. His balance and approach need to improve some. He has to recognize when the curveballs will be breaking out of the zone. Because the quality is better, he did swing at a lot of pitches that dipped out of the zone and into the dirt."
In his senior season at Delaware, Bosiokovic batted .527 (39-for-74) with 25 runs and 27 RBI. He also had three doubles, three triples and seven home runs for a .932 slugging percentage. He struck out 10 times, walked 13 and was hit by a pitch seven times, in addition to going 13-for-13 in stolen base attempts.
"His numbers will improve," said Mike Yinger, who coached Bosiokovic at Delaware. "He was the only freshman in the lineup the whole season and he hit in the five hole, which says something. ... Here's a freshman who didn't have much protection around him and was being asked to be one of their top run producers.
"The biggest thing for Jacob is hitting strikes. He wasn't getting many fastball strikes to hit and he was extending himself trying to hit breaking pitches out of the zone."
Bosiokovic knows that is part of his maturation process.
"It all comes back to developing a better approach, knowing how a pitcher will attack you and being patient," he said. "I'm working on that as well as my defense this summer. I also want to get stronger. I lost a bunch of weight during the season. My game plan is to improve in those areas, listen to my coaches and take what I've learned and implement it this fall."
The Buckeyes tied Nebraska for second in the Big Ten at 15-9, behind champion Indiana (17-7). The Hoosiers, who reached the College World Series, won the final two games of the regular season in Columbus to deny the Buckeyes the title. Ohio State lost the penultimate game 7-2 in 10 innings after it led 2-0 entering the top of the ninth.
"We were a couple of outs away from dog-piling and it was heartbreaking to lose like that," Bosiokovic said. "We were so close to being Big Ten champs. We're going to do it next year."
Ohio State defeated Nebraska 3-2 in the double-elimination Big Ten tournament before losing to Indiana 11-3 and to the Cornhuskers 5-0.
The Buckeyes were 32-14 before losing nine of their final 12.
"We played some great teams at the end of the season," Bosiokovic said. "Personally, it was the best pitching I've ever seen. Georgia Tech, Oregon, Louisville and Indiana had some great pitchers, especially Oregon."
Bosiokovic is competing this summer with the Richmond (Ind.) RiverRats in the Prospect League, an 11-team wood-bat league comprised solely of collegiate players.
"I tell all of our guys that their numbers will drop more in the wood-bat leagues, but that's to be expected," Beals said. "What we like about those leagues is that a player has to be even more precise in hitting because the wood bats aren't as forgiving as the aluminum. So it's more of a challenge to remain focused and see the pitches the whole way. It's better for fundamental hitting."
Through 34 games, Bosiokovic was hitting .258 with a team-high 24 runs and eight doubles. He had two home runs and 16 RBI.
"I wish my stats were better, but I'm working on things," he said. "I'm still adjusting to wooden bats, too. The numbers aren't real important, as long as I continue to work on what my (Ohio State) coaches want me to work on."