Vick Embraces Fresh Start in Return to Lake County
Laurel Wilder | On 12, Jun 2014
Stereotypically, a demotion from High-A to Low-A ball is viewed as something negative, a change that players do not want to make. Getting sent down a level is not usually something that players embrace. However, outfielder Logan Vick is viewing his trip from Carolina to Lake County as a positive shift and one that he fully accepts. For Vick, the return to Eastlake, Ohio, is almost something that he celebrates.
“I wanted to take the positive approach to being back here and make it something that fuels me to get better and work harder,” Vick said. “I’ve had success here in the past, so it’s something that I’m familiar with. I was excited to be back – obviously I was a little bummed, but I’m ready to go at it with a positive attitude and make the most out of it.”
Confidence and a positive attitude are just what Vick needs right now. A strong player last season, Vick started and struggled in Carolina to open the 2014 season, where he hit .170 in 41 games. He had 23 hits, three doubles, one triple, and two home runs. He also walked 29 times and had a .323 OBP. This season was not Vick’s first time in Carolina, as he ended 2013 with the Mudcats. He played 20 games in Carolina in 2013, hitting .225 with 16 hits, three doubles, one triple, and two home runs, as well as 14 walks and a .360 OBP.
One of Vick’s strongest assets as a player is his ability to get on base. He had a .413 OBP with Lake County last season, and drew 81 walks in 108 games. One of the things he struggled with in Carolina, said Vick, was maintaing that success. That’s when he knew something wasn’t right.
“I don’t know if it was a mental block. My swing didn’t feel good, I wasn’t sticking to the same routine, I was trying to change too much with my swings instead of being the real me,” Vick said of his time in Carolina. “[I’m a guy with] a short swing who hits singles, doubles, triples, steals bases, gets balls.”
After a conversation with his father, Vick said he began to realize that he was trying to do too much to change himself as a player. He said that he wasn’t being true to the skills he had honed that made him successful earlier in his career and had been trying to change things about his approach at the plate that were causing him to struggle. Thus, Vick decided to revert his playing style back to what he knew worked for him.
The baseball player that he is, said Vick, is “not a guy who’s going to hit 20 home runs in a season. He’s going to hit lines drives, he’s going to get on base, he’s going to be a guy with a high on-base percentage, a guy who takes his walks.”
Following this realization, Vick said he decided to start fresh and said that the change of mentality has been successful thus far on the field, despite the fact that with this change of mentality came the change of scenery and a move back from North Carolina to Ohio. Vick is ready to re-embrace the pace of Low-A baseball, as has been evidenced even by his performance on the field during his brief time back. Vick has played in six games thus far in Lake County and is hitting .263 with five hits and three doubles. He has walked five times and struck out twice, with an OBP of .417.
Vick’s prior success in Lake County is already repeating itself, as he was the hero of Lake County’s game against the Dayton Dragons on Saturday, June 7, when he hit the game-winning three-run walk-off double to lift the Captains to a 4-3 win over the Dragons in the ninth inning.
Yes, Vick may have been sent down a level, but looking at him Saturday night, one would think that he had just made the big league roster. Yes, he had taken a few hits from pitchers in the excitement of the win (“Pitchers like to beat up the guy who hit the walk-off, so I took a bit of a beating”) and he had been doused in shaving cream from his enthusiastic teammates, but Vick was still all smiles. He had thrown his batting helmet what looked to be 20 feet in the air with excitement while rounding the bases, which he laughed about in the clubhouse after the game.
“I didn’t really mean to throw it,” Vick said with a smile. “I’ve seen people do it on TV when they hit a walk-off, they throw their helmets in the air.”
Not only did Vick throw his helmet, he also channeled a high school friend’s victory celebration when he flashed the Johnny Manziel money sign to the crowd following the team’s win. Vick and Manziel attended Tivy High School together in Kerrville, Texas, though Manziel was two years younger than Vick and in the same class as his younger brother, Colton. They played on the same football team when Manziel played varsity football as a sophomore.
“We’re in Ohio, we’ve got Johnny on the Browns, I went to school with him,” Vick explained. “I did it the first night I was here, just kind of playing around with fans and I got a big applause out of it, so I figured I’d do it again tonight.”
“I have a good fan base here,” Vick said. “I was excited to see all the familiar faces and have that welcome – it just gives you confidence in yourself. Sometimes, the fans believe in you more than you believe in yourself.”
When it comes to minor league baseball, you can either sit and wallow in the fact that you aren’t playing in the big leagues yet or you can do everything in your power to make sure your time comes sooner rather than later. Vick may be back in Low-A after spending significant time at the High-A level, but he knows the change is only going to make him a stronger player.
“As a baseball player, you fail seven out of 10 times and you’re in the Hall of Fame,” Vick said. “It’s hard to keep that confidence because a lot of days, your swing is not going to feel good, but it’s something that you have to push through, that you have to grind through. You play the game every single night, there’s no days off. It’s something is more mental than anything.”
“You’re not going to feel good,” Vick continued. “Your body’s going to be sore, you’re going to have weak nights, you’re going to be playing on the road, getting in at three or four in the morning, but it’s something you have to get through. It prepares you – honestly, if you can get through this, it just gets easier as you go up levels. It’s about keeping a positive attitude and keeping everything in perspective.”
“It’s never a great thing to get a demotion,” Vick acknowledged. “But you can go one of two ways with it. You can be down about it, be sad about it, just go through the motions, or you can let it fuel the fire and make you work even harder and prove that you’re a great baseball player.”
“You play the game as hard as you can, you leave nothing behind,” Vick said. “When the game’s over, you want to look and say, ‘I gave it all I had.’”
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer