When the lineup for a baseball team is struggling, teams will often lean on the presence of a veteran bat to help dig them out of their offensive rut.
But that has not been the case for the Ohio State baseball team. Though most of the lineup has been struggling, freshman right fielder Dominic Canzone has emerged as one of the most potent threats for the team.
Canzone said it has taken him some time to get into this groove, but right now, everything just seems to be going right for him.
“Sometimes as a hitter, you just kind of get in the zone and just get the right pitches to hit and it just feels good,” Canzone said.
Clearly he has been getting a lot of great pitches to hit of late. Since March 25, Canzone has a slash line of .409/.490/.614 with 11 RBI, a double, triple and home run. During this stretch, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the week of April 3-10.
Things did not start out so great for him, however. Prior to March 25, Canzone had begun his collegiate career only 3-for-29, including a streak from February 19 until March 10 that saw him tally zero hits in 17 at-bats.
“Well at the beginning of the season, I was really struggling against lefties and coach (Matt) Angle just talking with approach-wise, that I was just really having trouble with offspeed and as long as I laid off of that, he told me that like a lot of lefties are just trying to go away, away, away,” Canzone said.
His coach, Greg Beals, has seen the growth and development of Canzone over the weeks and now views him as one of his most reliable bats, despite his youth and inexperience.
“He’s playing with confidence, and he’s in the batter’s box trying to be an offensive player and it’s showing,” Beals said. “He’s talented, first of all he’s very talented. We knew that, I mean I knew Dom could hit. He got off to a slow start like a typical freshman year, but he has grown and he has matured and his confidence has matured with him.”
One coach who proved instrumental in perfecting Canzone’s swing was volunteer video coordinator and former Baltimore Oriole outfielder Matt Angle.
Angle, who frequently goes through tapes of swings with the players, was able to go through step-by-step with Canzone on how the freshman needed to improve his swing.
“Starting when I was slumping a little bit, coach (Matt) Angle just showed me a couple drills that just kind of stand out front, and I was kind of getting locked in the back of my swing. So coach Angle definitely helped me a lot,” Canzone said. “It’s just a complete confidence booster to know that you can go 0-4 a couple games that he’s there just to — he knows what’s wrong with your swing and he can fix it at any time.”
Canzone has always shown dedication towards honing and refining his swing.
Before he was working with Angle in the video room, he was working with his dad in Sagamore Hills, Ohio, in the batting cages and in the library.
“He was always taking me up to the cages and working on my swing and he always brought a lot of books and stuff about not just the swing and its mechanics, but also just like your approach in general,” Canzone said. “So I would say my dad has a lot to do with how level my swing is and also just like the coaches that I’ve come through.”
Working on perfecting his swing became a chore for Canzone as he frequently spent time working in the cages with his father to perfect his swing.
A player he said helped inspire his swing was recent Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey Jr., another sweet-swinging left-handed hitter.
“Well, just kind of growing up my favorite player was always Ken Griffey Jr., and he went to Moehller, an Ohio guy,” Canzone said. “I mean obviously I don’t have as much pop as that guy, but at the same time, I’ve always tried to model my swing after him. He was always so level through the zone. It was just always someone that I always looked up to.”
Canzone may not be Griffey, but he’s steadily making a name for himself in the Buckeye lineup. And as he continues to become more confident in his swing, Canzone expects to only keep getting better.
“It’s just being confident at the plate, just knowing who you are as a hitter, not trying to do too much,” Canzone said. “I mean as long as you’re barreling balls up, hitting stuff hard, it will find holes eventually.”