Wabick is pleased with his season
On a team that has fought through a number of rough patches this season, outfielder D.J. Wabick is a trustworthy asset in the middle of the St. Lucie order. Though his style of play is not flashy, he performs with a concentrated effort that makes him a club favorite and a reliable run producer.
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Coming off the 2007 in which he spent 118 games sharing time at first base and in the outfielder for the Savannah Sandgnats, St. Lucie outfielder D.J. Wabick continues to demonstrate his value in the outfield.
In Savannah last season, Wabick’s .306 average, eight home runs and 64 RBI went a long way on a club that was starved for runs. Such the case has been repeated this season in St. Lucie when the Mets’ offense has sputtered often throughout the season. But, thanks to his year-over-year consistency, he has played a major role in their offense.
His average may have fallen back to .289 going into Friday evening, but hovering around .300 for most of the season and ranking seventh in the Florida State League has boosted the club’s production. Wabick was quick to attribute his carry over to the Florida State League to a dedicated work ethic and desire to stay ahead of the curve.
“I owe a lot to my coaches,” he said. “The programs we do, the work I put in, and the work they want out of me has helped me have a good year. The coaches always get us doing a little bit more so that we don’t fall behind.”
“Being able to go out there early and get extra swings has helped me stay consistent with my swing and it’s important because if I fall behind on that extra work, I could lose my swing and that really puts me in a tough spot.”
Nonetheless, Wabick found himself in a tough spot in July when after three months of a rising batting average, he regressed and hit just .227 in 18 games for the month with zero home runs, six RBI and three doubles. It was the most trying time of not only his season, but perhaps his career as he worked to avoid a second-half swoon.
“At the time, I didn’t really know why I hit the slump but it was as simple as swinging at bad pitches. The biggest thing I had to do was to get back to my timing. I was just jumping out on balls and once I got into that slump it seemed like things were spiraling down,” he explained.
“I really had to just slow everything down again. I couldn’t worry about my numbers, I just had keep hitting the ball hard and that’s the only way you can get out of a slump is making good, solid contact.”
Slowing things down was important step in his progress as a ballplayer as he moved up a level. Wabick, who can feast on fastballs, had to develop a consistent swing that would allow him to keep pace with the greater dosage of breaking balls and off-speed pitches he would see at this level. With respectable skill to hit to the other field, Wabick went to work on his timing in the box.
“The main thing I’ve had to do this year was slow everything down as a hitter. I can’t be as jumpy when I hit because when I do that I leave myself open to getting fooled on breaking balls and off-speed stuff. I’ve really had to slow things down and see the ball move deep into the zone.”
So far this season, he has done an excellent of job producing when the situation and the pitch he is looking for arises. As a .353 hitter with runners on base, he shows he can quickly adjust to the task at hand.
“When I’ve got runners on base, I’m not trying to do too much. I’m doing what the defense gives me and trying to hit the ball hard. It’s important that I concentrate on getting the runs than worrying about the reaction of not moving the runners. I just need to focus on doing the job at hand and everything should work out for me,” he outlined.
As he comes to the end of the season, Wabick, now settled as a corner outfielder, reflects back on his year positively, confident in his season perhaps not so much by his numbers but by the growth he sustain over the course of the season.
“I feel like I’ve done positive things throughout the season,” he said. “A lot of it is a maturity thing as far as knowing when and how to do things. I think I’ve been playing well and contributing so I’m pretty excited about what’s been going on.”